Journal Article

Plasticity of stomatal distribution pattern and stem tracheid dimensions in <i>Podocarpus lambertii</i>: an ecological study

Giuliano Maselli Locosselli and Gregório Ceccantini

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 5, pages 1057-1066
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Plasticity of stomatal distribution pattern and stem tracheid dimensions in Podocarpus lambertii: an ecological study

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Leaf and wood plasticity are key elements in the survival of widely distributed plant species. Little is known, however, about variation in stomatal distribution in the leaf epidermis and its correlation with the dimensions of conducting cells in wood. This study aimed at testing the hypothesis that Podocarpus lambertii, a conifer tree, possesses a well-defined pattern of stomatal distribution, and that this pattern can vary together with the dimensions of stem tracheids as a possible strategy to survive in climatically different sites.


Leaves and wood were sampled from trees growing in a cold, wet site in south-eastern Brazil and in a warm, dry site in north-eastern Brazil. Stomata were thoroughly mapped in leaves from each study site to determine a spatial sampling strategy. Stomatal density, stomatal index and guard cell length were then sampled in three regions of the leaf: near the midrib, near the leaf margin and in between the two. This sampling strategy was used to test for a pattern and its possible variation between study sites. Wood and stomata data were analysed together via principal component analysis.

Key Results

The following distribution pattern was found in the south-eastern leaves: the stomatal index was up to 25 % higher in the central leaf region, between the midrib and the leaf margin, than in the adjacent regions. The inverse pattern was found in the north-eastern leaves, in which the stomatal index was 10 % higher near the midrib and the leaf margin. This change in pattern was accompanied by smaller tracheid lumen diameter and length.


Podocarpus lambertii individuals in sites with higher temperature and lower water availability jointly regulate stomatal distribution in leaves and tracheid dimensions in wood. The observed stomatal distribution pattern and variation appear to be closely related to the placement of conducting tissue in the mesophyll.

Keywords: Podocarpus lambertii; stomatal index; stomatal density; stomatal distribution pattern; stem tracheids; transfusion tissue; anatomical plasticity

Journal Article.  5946 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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