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    Lianas, climbing woody plants, influence the structure and function of tropical forests. Climbing traits have evolved multiple times, including ancestral groups such as gymnosperms and pteridophytes, but the genetic basis of the liana strategy is largely unknown. Here, we use a comparative transcriptomic approach for 47 tropical plant species, including ten lianas of diverse taxonomic origins, to identify genes that are consistently expressed or downregulated only in lianas. Our comparative analysis of full-length transcripts enabled the identification of a core interactomic network common to lianas. Sets of transcripts identified from our analysis reveal features related to functional traits pertinent to leaf economics spectrum in lianas, include upregulation of genes controlling epidermal cuticular properties, cell wall remodeling, carbon concentrating mechanism, cell cycle progression, DNA repair and a large suit of downregulated transcription factors and enzymes involved in ABA-mediated stress response as well as lignin and suberin synthesis. All together, these genes are known to be significant in shaping plant morphologies through responses such as gravitropism, phyllotaxy and shade avoidance.

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  2. Abstract

    Intra‐specific negative density dependence promotes species coexistence by regulating population sizes. Patterns consistent with such density dependence are frequently reported in diverse tropical tree communities. Empirical evidence demonstrating whether intra‐specific variation is related to these patterns, however, is lacking. The present study addresses this important knowledge gap by genotyping all individuals of a tropical tree in a long‐term forest dynamics plot in tropical China. We show that related individuals are often spatially clustered, but having closely related neighbours reduces the growth performance of focal trees. We infer from the evidence that dispersal limitation and negative density dependence are operating simultaneously to impact the spatial distributions of genotypes in a natural population. Furthermore, dispersal limitation decreases local intra‐specific genetic diversity and increases negative density dependence thereby promoting niche differences and species coexistence as predicted by theory.

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