Plants can tolerate tissue loss through vigorous branching, often triggered by release from apical dominance and activation of lateral meristems. In the annual plant Medicago truncatula, Gruntman and Novoplansky show that damage-induced meristem activation is an adaptive response that can be modified according to the plant’s developmental stage, severity of tissue loss and their interaction. Plants exhibit an ontogenetic shift in tolerance mechanisms: while early apical damage induces activation of vegetation meristems, late damage elicits increased allocation to already existing reproductive organs.
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