, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 21-26

Phenotypic responses of the twining vine Ipomoea purpurea (Convolvulaceae) to physical support availability in sun and shade

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Abstract

Vines depend on external support to prevent shading by neighbouringplants. Hence, it is important to determine whether shading enhances thephenotypic responses of vines to support availability. I evaluated theconsequences of support availability (a vertical stake) on shoot and leaftraitsof the morning glory Ipomoea purpurea (Convolvulaceae)under full sunlight and extreme shade. It was hypothesised that phenotypicresponses of vines to support availability should be greater in the shade. Inaddition, to investigate possible constraints to such phenotypic responses, thecorrelations among phenotypic traits and the plasticity of such correlationswere evaluated. The phenotypic variation of the main stem length and of thenumber of branches was consistent with the hypothesis, i.e. greater responsestosupport availability in the shade. In contrast, both internode length and leafarea (two traits that showed a significant and positive correlation) decreasedin the sun and increased in the shade with support availability. Petiole lengthdecreased with support in the sun but had no response in the shade. On theotherhand, the number of significant trait correlations found in plants in the sunand supported plants was higher than those of shade and non-supported plants,respectively. Several of the correlations were significantly sensitive to theenvironment. Flowering only occurred in the sun treatment. Whereas no shoot orleaf trait was significantly correlated with flower number in supported plants,both petiole length and shoot biomass showed a significant correlation withsuchestimate of plant fitness in non-supported plants.