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Dependence of functional traits related to growth rates and their CO2 response on multiple habitat climate factors across Arabidopsis thaliana populations

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Abstract

The values of many plant traits are often different even within a species as a result of local adaptation. Here, we studied how multiple climate variables influence trait values in Arabidopsis thaliana grown under common conditions. We examined 9 climate variables and 29 traits related to vegetative growth rate in 44 global A. thaliana accessions grown at ambient or elevated CO2 concentration ([CO2]) and applied a multiple regression analysis. We found that genetic variations in the traits related to growth rates were associated with various climate variables. At ambient [CO2], plant size was positively correlated with precipitation in the original habitat. This may be a result of larger biomass investment in roots at the initial stage in plants adapting to a lower precipitation. Stomatal conductance and photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency were negatively correlated with vapor pressure deficit, probably as a result of the trade-off between photosynthetic water- and nitrogen-use efficiency. These results suggest that precipitation and air humidity influence belowground and aboveground traits, respectively. Elevated [CO2] altered climate dependences in some of the studied traits. The CO2 response of relative growth rate was negatively correlated with altitude, indicating that plants inhabiting a higher altitude have less plasticity to changing [CO2]. These results are useful not only for understanding evolutionary process but also to predict the plant species that are favored under future global change.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank members of the laboratory of plant ecology and functional ecology at Tohoku University for their support in statistical analyses. This work was supported by KAKENHI (nos. 20677001, 21114009, 25291095, 17H03727), Global COE program (J03) and JST CREST Grant number JPMJCR11B3, Japan.

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Correspondence to Hiroshi Ozaki.

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Ozaki, H., Oguchi, R. & Hikosaka, K. Dependence of functional traits related to growth rates and their CO2 response on multiple habitat climate factors across Arabidopsis thaliana populations. J Plant Res 131, 987–999 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-018-1058-1

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