Differential effects of light quantity and spectral light quality on growth, morphology and development of two stoloniferous Potentilla species
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- Stuefer, J. & Huber, H. Oecologia (1998) 117: 1. doi:10.1007/s004420050624
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Plant species from open habitats often show pronounced responses to shading. Apart from a reduction in growth, shading can lead to marked changes in morphology and architecture, and it may affect the rate of plant development. Natural shade comprises two basically different features, a reduction in light quantity (amount of radiation) and changes in the spectral light quality. The first aspect represents changes in resource availability, while the latter acts as a source of information for plants and can prompt morphogenetic responses. A greenhouse experiment was carried out to study the effects of changes in light quality and quantity on the growth, morphology and development of two stoloniferous Potentilla species. Individual plants were subjected to three light treatments: (1) full daylight (control); and two shade treatments, in which (2) light quantity (photon flux density) and (3) light spectral quality (red/far-red ratio) were changed independently. Plant development was followed throughout the study. Morphological parameters, biomass and clonal offspring production were measured at the end of the experiment. Morphological traits such as petiole length, leaf blade characteristics and investment patterns into spacers showed high degrees of shade-induced plasticity in both species. With a few exceptions, light quality mainly affected morphological variables, while production parameters were most responsive to changes in light quantity. Potentilla anserina allocated resources preferentially to established rosettes at the cost of stolon growth and branching, while in P. reptans, all parameters related to development and allocation were slowed down to the same extent by light limitation. Light quality changes also positively affected biomass production via changes in leaf allocation. Changes in the spectral light quality had major effects on the size of modular structures (leaves, ramets), whereas changes in light quantity mainly affected their numbers.