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Photosynthetica

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 537–546 | Cite as

Trade-offs between seedling growth, plant respiration and water-use efficiency in two Mediterranean shrubs Rhamnus alaternus and Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris

  • H. El Aou-Ouad
  • I. Florez-Sarasa
  • M. Ribas-Carbó
  • J. Flexas
  • H. Medrano
  • J. Gulías
Original Papers

Abstract

Seedling recruitment is a critical developmental stage in regeneration of plant populations under Mediterranean conditions that strongly depends on water availability. Seed mass and relative growth rate (RGR) may affect the early establishment of seedlings through different physiological processes. Here, we examined the effects of the seed mass and carbon balance on seedling growth under two water regimes in Rhamnus alaternus L. and Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris, two Mediterranean shrubs, showing a different ability to recruit seedlings. Plant water consumption and biomass accumulation (ΔB) were measured during three periods of the growth in order to estimate water use efficiency (WUE), RGR, and its components. Additionally, net photosynthesis and leaf, stem, and root respiration were measured in plants grown in pots well watered and under progressive drought. Rhamnus alaternus showed the higher seed mass, ΔB, and plant WUE than that of R. ludovici-salvatoris in all periods and water regimes. The higher RGR of R. alaternus was observed during the first and the second period, but the reverse trend was registered during the third period as a consequence of the higher initial biomass of R. alaternus. Also, R. alaternus showed a higher specific leaf area and estimated carbon balance than that of R. ludovicisalvatoris. The observed differences in ΔB, estimated carbon balance, seed mass, and WUE between both species could explain their different distribution and ability to recruit seedlings under natural conditions.

Additional key words

chilling temperature leaf area ratio seedling survival specific leaf area 

Abbreviations

DM

dry mass

E

transpiration rate

gs

stomatal conductance

LA

leaf area

LAR

leaf area ratio

LMR

leaf mass ratio

PN

net photosynthetic rate

PNm/RDm

net carbon assimilation to dark respiration ratio on a mass basis

RD

respiration rate

RGR

relative growth rate

R/S

root:shoot ratio

SLA

specific leaf area

SWC

soil water content

VPD

vapor pressure deficit

WUEi

intrinsic water-use efficiency (= P N/g s)

WUEWP

plant water-use efficiency

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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. El Aou-Ouad
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Florez-Sarasa
    • 1
  • M. Ribas-Carbó
    • 1
  • J. Flexas
    • 1
  • H. Medrano
    • 1
  • J. Gulías
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Group on Plant Biology under Mediterranean Conditions, Department of BiologyCtra ValldemossaPalma de MallorcaSpain
  2. 2.Département de BiologieUniversité Abdelmalek Essaadi, Faculté des SciencesTetouanMorocco

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