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Differences in leaf functional traits between red and green leaves of two evergreen shrubs Photinia × fraseri and Osmanthus fragrans

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Leaf functional traits are adaptations that enable plants to live under different environmental conditions. This study aims to evaluate the differences in leaf functional traits between red and green leaves of two evergreen shrubs Photinia × fraseri and Osmanthus fragrans. Specific areas of red leaves are higher than that of green leaves in both species. Thus, the material investment per unit area and per lamina of red leaves is significantly lower than that of green leaves, implying an utmost effort of red leaves to increase light capture and use efficiency because of their low leaf-chlorophyll concentration. The higher petiole length of green leaves compared with that of red leaves indicates that adult green leaves may have large fractional biomass allocation to support the lamina structures in capturing light with maximum efficiency and obtaining a high growth rate. The high range of the phenotypic plasticity of leaf size, leaf thickness, single-leaf wet and dry weights, and leaf moisture of green leaves may be beneficial in achieving efficient control of water loss and nutrient deprivation. The high range of phenotypic plasticity of leaf chlorophyll concentration of red leaves may be advantageous in increasing resource (especially light) capture and use efficiency because this leaf type is juvenile in the growth stage and has low leaf-chlorophyll concentration.

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We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for insightful and constructive comments that greatly improved this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Congyan Wang.

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Project funding: This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31300343), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China (BK20130500), and Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Technology and Material of Water Treatment.

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Corresponding editor: Hu Yanbo

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Wang, C., Xiao, H., Liu, J. et al. Differences in leaf functional traits between red and green leaves of two evergreen shrubs Photinia × fraseri and Osmanthus fragrans . J. For. Res. 28, 473–479 (2017).

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