Habitat heterogeneity in the pseudometallophyte Arabidopsis halleri and its structuring effect on natural variation of zinc and cadmium hyperaccumulation
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Background and aims
Arabidopsis halleri is a pseudometallophyte plant model hyperaccumulating zinc and cadmium. This study investigates which abiotic parameters may cause phenotypic divergence among accessions for hyperaccumulation traits.
We studied 23 sites from a mining and industrial area in Italian Alps. Sites were characterized for altitude, topographic data, absolute humidity, and accompanying flora. Plant-soil couples were also sampled to measure shoot metal concentrations and soil elemental concentrations, particles size distribution, and pH. Using PLSR analyses, we investigated whether the natural variation in hyperaccumulation abilities could be explained by variation of abiotic parameters.
Habitats heterogeneity was high, distinguishing metalliferous and non-metalliferous sites. However, heterogeneity was also observed for soil metal concentrations, particles size distribution and altitude, particularly among metalliferous habitats. This result was supported by floristic data. Soil zinc and cadmium concentrations showed the most contrasting effects on phenotypic divergence between metalliferous and non-metalliferous habitats. However, except for cadmium-related traits in non-metalliferous habitats, other abiotic parameters may affect the variation of zinc or cadmium hyperaccumulation within each habitat type.
The classical dichotomous distinction between metalliferous and non-metalliferous habitats may hide the ecological diversity existing within each category for abiotic parameters. This study reveals abiotic parameters that may shape the natural variation of hyperaccumulation abilities.
KeywordsAbiotic parameters Ecological niche evolution Habitat heterogeneity Local adaptation Metal hyperaccumulation Phenotypic divergence
The authors are grateful to Angélique Bourceaux and Cédric Glorieux for their technical help. They thank Philippe Ghysels (Laboratory of Plant Ecology and Biogeochemistry, University of Brussels) for plant and soil analyses. They thank Pr. Daniel Petit for its contribution to plant identification. They thank Enzo Bona, from Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, for localization of sampling sites in Italy. They also thank Dr. Palmyre Boucherie for its help as a young student at the time of this study. Many thanks to Thibault Sterckeman for carefully revising the manuscript, and to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This work is a contribution to the CPER research project CLIMIBIO. The authors thank the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Hauts de France Region and the European Funds for Regional Economical Development for their financial support to this project. Isabelle Decombeix was funded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.
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