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Sibling Rivalry in Plants

If you have a sister or brother, you will fondly remember the silly fights you had as a child. In the case of plants, do you think sibling rivalry exists?

K.N. Ganeshaiah is a polymath who has contributed a vast number of papers and articles in botany and agriculture. Ganeshaiah is a retired professor of agriculture at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore. Apart from being a career academic, Ganeshaiah is also a prolific writer of thrillers, mostly in the Kannada language. Apart from short stories, he has also written several thriller novels. He is also a devoted fan of old Indian mythology.

His research mostly focused on plants and flowering species. Along with Manjunath and Bawa, Ganeshaiah discovered a wide variation in the number of fertilized ovules that mature into seeds within individual fruits in most plant species. In most species, the number of seeds tends to vary because many seeds die off at different development stages. Thus, there is a form of parent-kin rivalry (also known as sibling rivalry) in plants.

Their research showed that this kind of conflict is inevitable when the parent plants' investments in their offspring are not identical. If the investment is asymmetrical, then it is quite understandable that the number of parent-kin conflicts will be quite large. If the genetic similarities between the fruits increase, then the likelihood of conflict reduces also. This is also the reason why the brood size in plants continues to vary dramatically across many species.

Did you know that plants can fight their siblings and manage


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