Journal Article

Growth temperature modulates the spatial variability of leaf morphology and chemical elements within crowns of climatically divergent <i>Acer rubrum</i> genotypes

Mohamed A. Shahba and William L. Bauerle

in Tree Physiology

Volume 29, issue 7, pages 869-877
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpp024
Growth temperature modulates the spatial variability of leaf morphology and chemical elements within crowns of climatically divergent Acer rubrum genotypes

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Our understanding of leaf acclimation in relation to temperature of fully grown or juvenile tree crowns is mainly based on research involving spatially uncontrolled growth temperature. In this study, we test the hypothesis that leaf morphology and chemical elements are modulated by within-crown growth temperature differences. We ask whether within-species variation can influence acclimation to elevated temperatures. Within-crown temperature dependence of leaf morphology, carbon and nitrogen was examined in two genotypes of Acer rubrum L. (red maple) from different latitudes, where the mean annual temperature varies between 7.2 and 19.4 °C. Crown sections were grown in temperature-controlled chambers at three daytime growth temperatures (25, 33 and 38 °C). Leaf growth and resource acquisition were measured at regular intervals over long-term (50 days) controlled daytime growth temperatures. We found significant intraspecific variation in temperature dependence of leaf carbon and nitrogen accumulation between genotypes. Additionally, there was evidence that leaf morphology depended on inherited adaptation. Leaf dry matter and nitrogen content decreased as growth temperature was elevated above 25 °C in the genotype native to the cooler climate, whereas they remained fairly constant in response to temperature in the genotype native to the warmer climate. Specific leaf area (SLA) was correlated positively to leaf nitrogen content in both genotypes. The SLA and the relative leaf dry matter content (L M), on the other hand, were correlated negatively to leaf thickness. However, intraspecific variation in SLA and L M versus leaf thickness was highly significant. Intraspecific differences in leaf temperature response between climatically divergent genotypes yielded important implications for convergent evolution of leaf adaptation. Comparison of our results with those of previous studies showed that leaf carbon allocation along a vertical temperature gradient was modulated by growth temperature in the genotype native to the cooler climate. This indicates that within-crown temperature-induced variations in leaf morphology and chemical content should be accounted for in forest ecosystem models.

Keywords: intraspecific variability; leaf anatomy; leaf nitrogen; leaf thickness; specific leaf area

Journal Article.  5785 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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