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Morphological and anatomical changes of Melaleuca cajuputi under submergence

Abstract

Melaleuca cajuputi is a woody plant of the Myrtaceae which is a dominant species in tropical peat swamps in southern Thailand, where the groundwater level fluctuates greatly. Although the current year seedlings are likely submerged, their adaptive responses have never been studied. The objective of the present study was to examine their responses to submergence, and especially their morphological and anatomical changes. Not only did the seedlings of M. cajuputi survive submergence for 56 days, but they could also increase their dry weight, shoot length, and leaf number during submergence. These growth responses to submergence indicate that the seedlings of M. cajuputi could make photosynthetic production under water. The leaves that developed under water were heterophyllous “aquatic leaves” that appear to represent adaptations to improve the uptake of gases from the water. Intercellular spaces in the stems and leaves were more strongly developed in the submerged seedlings than in non-submerged seedlings with the shoot and leaves in the air. The intercellular spaces appear to be schizogenous aerenchyma that facilitates gas exchange. The growth responses and anatomical responses in stems and leaves to submergence, which were found in M. cajuputi, are commonly known in herbaceous plants with amphibious characteristics, but had not been reported in woody plants. And our results suggest that M. cajuputi adapts to submergence similarly to other amphibious plants, thereby ensuring continuing biomass production.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 19580164, No. 22580158) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

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Correspondence to Kazuo Tanaka.

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Communicated by T. Koike.

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Tanaka, K., Masumori, M., Yamanoshita, T. et al. Morphological and anatomical changes of Melaleuca cajuputi under submergence. Trees 25, 695–704 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-011-0547-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-011-0547-9

Keywords

  • Melaleuca cajuputi
  • Tropical peat swamp
  • Amphibious plants
  • Aerenchyma
  • Aquatic heterophylly