, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 381–389 | Cite as

Comparison of morphological and physiological characteristics in two phenotypes of a rare and endangered plant, Begonia fimbristipula Hance

  • Y. Wang
  • L. Shao
  • J. Wang
  • H. Ren
  • H. Liu
  • Q. M. Zhang
  • Q. F. Guo
  • X. W. Chen
Original papers


The rare and endangered plant, Begonia fimbristipula, shows red and green phenotypes, differentiated by a coloration of the abaxial leaf surface. In this study, we compared morphological and physiological traits of both phenotypes. The results showed that the red phenotype contained a significantly higher chlorophyll content, closer arrangement of chloroplasts, and a more developed grana. In addition, the red phenotype transferred significantly more light energy into the electron transport during the photoreaction. Similarly, the maximum photosynthetic rate, instantaneous water-use and light-use efficiencies of the red B. fimbristipula were all significantly higher than those of the green individuals. The differentiation between these two phenotypes could be caused by their different survival strategies under the same conditions; epigenetic variations may be in some correlation with this kind of phenotype plasticity. Red B. fimbristipula has an advantage in resource acquisition and utilization and possesses a better self-protection mechanism against changes in environmental conditions, therefore, it might adapt better to global climate change compared to the green phenotype. Further studies on the possible epigenetic regulation of those phenotypic differentiations are needed.

Additional key words

anatomy epigenetic macronutrient morphology pigment 



apparent quantum yield






minimal fluorescence yield of the darkadapted state


minimal fluorescence yield of the light-adapted state


maximal fluorescence yield of the dark-adapted state


maximal fluorescence yield of the light-adapted state


steady-state fluorescence yield


maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry


instantaneous light-use efficiency


instantaneous water-use efficiency


leaf area


lightcompensation point


light-saturation point


nonphotochemical quenching


light-saturated net photosynthetic rate


net photosynthetic rate


photochemical fluorescence quenching coefficient


respiration rate


scanning electron microscope


specific leaf area


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Wang
    • 1
    • 5
  • L. Shao
    • 2
    • 5
  • J. Wang
    • 1
    • 5
  • H. Ren
    • 1
  • H. Liu
    • 3
    • 4
  • Q. M. Zhang
    • 1
  • Q. F. Guo
    • 5
  • X. W. Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Life ScienceZhaoqing UniversityZhaoqingChina
  3. 3.International Center for Tropical Botany, Department of Earth and EnvironmentFlorida International UniversityMiami, FloridaUSA
  4. 4.Forestry CollegeGuangxi UniversityNanningChina
  5. 5.Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment CenterUSDA Forest Service, RTPNew YorkUSA

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