Morphological and chemical leaf composition of Mediterranean evergreen tree species according to leaf age
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Changes in morphology [leaf dry mass per unit area (LMA), thickness and density] and chemical composition (macronutrients and fibres content) in different age leaves of eight evergreen Mediterranean woody species were investigated. LMA and leaf thickness increased with leaf age increasing. Young tissues possessed higher concentrations of N, P, K, and Mg and lower Ca concentrations on a dry mass basis. However, mineral content was independent of age on leaf area basis (except for Ca content) suggesting that the changes in mineral concentration with leaf ageing are due to dilution in the larger dry mass accumulated in the oldest leaves. Leaf tissue density (LTD) increased during the first year of the leaf life. Lignin and hemicellulose concentrations did not vary along leaf life and the cellulose concentration increased with leaf age in most species between the current-year and the one-year old leaves. Our results suggested that physical leaf reinforcement with a higher cellulose concentration and density might be a leaf response to the unfavourable climatic conditions during the first winter.
KeywordsFibre concentration Leaf age class Leaf tissue density Leaf mass per area Leaf thickness Mineral content
This paper has received financial support from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación—EU-FEDER (Project No. CGL2006-04281), the Regional Government of Castilla-León (Project No. SA126A08) and Miguel Casado S José Foundation.
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