Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (9): 951-961.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0188

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of different disturbances on plant growth and content of main medicinal ingredients of rhizomatous clonal plant Glycyrrhiza uralensis in a natural population

YE Xue-Hua1,*(), XUE Jian-Guo1, XIE Xiu-Fang2, HUANG Zhen-Ying1   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2School of Medical Humanities, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, China
  • Received:2020-06-12 Accepted:2020-08-13 Online:2020-09-20 Published:2020-09-03
  • Contact: YE Xue-Hua
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the Science and Technology Service Network Initiative Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(KFJ-EW-STS-118);the National Key R&D Program of China(2016YFC050080502)


Aims Long-term enclosure and grazing prohibition protects Glycyrrhiza uralensis natural population from external disturbances, such as excessive excavation or overgrazing, but it does not prompt the rapid recovery of the damaged G. uralensis natural population. Appropriate external disturbance is always beneficial to the growth and reproduction of clonal plants such as G. uralensis due to plant clonality. But the roles and mechanisms of disturbances and plant clonality in the recovery of damaged G. uralensis natural populations are still not clear.
Methods A natural population of G. uralensis was chosen in the present research, and a field experiment with both clipping (simulated grazing disturbance) and ramet digging out (simulated human excavation disturbance) treatments was conducted to test the effects of different disturbances on plant growth and the content of medicinal ingredients of G. uralensis in the natural population.
Important findings The results showed that moderate disturbances, including clipping and ramet digging out treatments, had no significant effects on the ramet density, height and shoot biomass of individual ramets of G. uralensis in the natural population, suggesting the same compensation growth in G. uralensis. In contrast, G. uralensis showed different responses to severe disturbances, depending on the disturbance type. Significantly lower ramet density, height and shoot biomass of individual ramets were observed in G. uralensis under severe clipping treatment, indicating undercompensated growth; while significantly higher ramet height, shoot biomass of individual ramets and also total shoot biomass of plant population were observed under severe digging out treatment, suggesting super-compensatory growth in G. uralensis. Plant clonality, including clonal integration, clonal storage and selective placement of ramets, played important roles in the response of G. uralensis to external disturbance. The content of liquritin and glycyrrhizic acid in taproot of G. uralensis was improved to some extent by external disturbance, suggesting that disturbance at certain levels may improve the medicinal material quality of G. uralensis.

Key words: compensatory growth, disturbance, rhizome network, clonal plant, natural population, medicinal materials quality, Glycyrrhiza uralensis