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Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 141–170 | Cite as

Phenotypic plasticity inPotamogeton (Potamogetonaceae)

  • Zdenek Kaplan
Article

Abstract

Sources of the extensive morphological variation of the species and hybrids ofPotamogeton were studied, especially from the viewpoint of the stability of the morphological characters used inPotamogeton taxonomy. Transplant experiments, the cultivation of clones under different values of environmental factors, and the cultivation of different clones under uniform conditions were performed to assess the proportion of phenotypic plasticity in the total morphological variation. Samples from 184 populations of 41Potamogeton taxa were grown. The immense range of phenotypic plasticity, which is possible for a single clone, is documented in detail in 14 well-described examples. The differences among distinct populations of a single species observed in the field were mostly not maintained when grown together under the same environmental conditions. Clonal material cultivated under different values of environmental factors produced distinct phenotypes, and in a few cases a single genotype was able to demonstrate almost the entire range of morphological variation in an observed trait known for that species. Several characters by recent literature claimed to be suitable for distinguishing varieties or even species were proven to be dependent on environmental conditions and to be highly unreliable markers for the delimiation of taxa. The unsatisfactory taxonomy that results when such classification of phenotypes is adopted is illustrated by three examples from recent literature. Phenotypic plasticity was found to be the main source of morphological variation within the species ofPotamogeton, having much more influence than morphological differences caused by different genotypes.

Keywords

Classification Cultivation experiments Modification Phenotype Taxonomy Variability Variation 

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© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrůhoniceCzech Republic

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