Leaf anatomical plasticity of Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. growing in contrasting microenvironments in a semiarid loess forest-steppe vegetation mosaic

Abstract

After clearcutting xerothermic oakwoods once natural in the forest-steppe loess regions of Hungary, the perennial understorey grass Brachypodium pinnatum has been persisting for decades by establishing microhabitats from shade to full sun. In this paper, we explore variation in leaf anatomy for plants growing in different microhabitat light regimes (full shade under oak canopy, half shade near shrubs, and in unshaded grassland) in situ, and for plants reciprocally transplanted between these microhabitats. Leaf lamina thickness and mesophyll thickness were about 1.5 times greater in the grassland in situ than in oak subcanopy due to an additional layer of mesophyll cells and to 25–32% taller mesophyll cells. Mesophyll thickness and the proportion of veins plus sclerenchyma were lower for plants transplanted from either full or half shade to full sun than in situ plants in the grassland. Parenchymatous bundle sheath tended to be thicker in the grassland than in the two other microhabitats. Mean intervenial distance remained invariable among microsites. These adjustments in leaf anatomy may be a considerable part, but presumably not the dominant component of the medium-term (one year) light acclimation of B. pinnatum and the species’ success in microsites with contrasting light climate appearing side-by-side during secondary vegetation succession.

Abbreviations

ETR:

Electron transport rate

LMA:

Leaf mass per area

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Correspondence to A. Mojzes.

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Mojzes, A., Kalapos, T. & Virágh, K. Leaf anatomical plasticity of Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. growing in contrasting microenvironments in a semiarid loess forest-steppe vegetation mosaic. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 6, 49–56 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.6.2005.1.6

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Keyword

  • Leaf structure
  • Light acclimation
  • Mesophyll
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Sun and shade leaves
  • Transplant experiment