Plasticity of leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry for Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. growing in contrasting microenvironments in a semiarid loess forest-steppe vegetation mosaic

Andrea Mojzes, T. Kalapos, Klára Virágh

Research output: Article

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After clearcutting xerothermic oakwoods once natural in semiarid temperate loess regions of Hungary the perennial understorey grass Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. may persist through decades and often dominates grasslands maintained by grazing and/or cutting in the place of former oakwoods. This grass also successfully establishes from low- to high-light microenvironments co-ocurring as forest regeneration commences after pasture abandonment. It was assumed that B. pinnatum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such an ecological versatility. This assumption was tested by comparing leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry in the species' three typical microenvironments (full shade under oak canopy, half shade near shrubs, and full sun in unshaded grassland) for plants growing in situ and for those reciprocally transplanted between these microhabitats. Aboveground standing crop of B. pinnatum was greatest near shrubs, indicating that in this microhabitat light limitation (typical in oak shade) and water stress (appearing temporarily in the grassland) are ameliorated. Average leaf lifespan was greatest under oak canopy, while leaf senescence was highest in the grassland. An efficient adjustment to low light was observed both in leaf morphology (specific leaf mass, leaf thickness and bulk tissue density were lowest in oak shade) and in leaf photochemistry (quantum yield of PSII (ΦPSII), photochemical quenching (qP), and non-photochemical energy dissipation (NPQ) were lower, while PSII antenna efficiency (Fv′/Fm′ ) was higher for leaves in oak shade than for others). Transplanted plants showed remarkable phenotypic plasticity since after one year of transfer their leaves did not differ in photochemistry and/or morphology from those growing in situ in the new microenvironment. However, transplants appeared to be more sensitive to the high radiation load in the grassland than in situ ones. Our results confirm the high capacity of B. pinnatum for phenotypical adjustment to habitat light environment, that is consistent with the species' original forest-steppe coenological affinity and also may contribute to the species' persistence after deforestation. Nevertheless, temporary water stress associated with high radiation load in the unshaded grassland appear to pose a limitation on the ecological distribution of this species in Central Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-320
Number of pages17
JournalFlora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants
Volume198
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Fingerprint

Brachypodium pinnatum
forest-steppe
photochemistry
loess
steppes
plasticity
shoot
vegetation
shoots
grassland
grasslands
leaves
shade
Quercus
phenotypic plasticity
water stress
microhabitat
microhabitats
shrub
canopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

Cite this

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title = "Plasticity of leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry for Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. growing in contrasting microenvironments in a semiarid loess forest-steppe vegetation mosaic",
abstract = "After clearcutting xerothermic oakwoods once natural in semiarid temperate loess regions of Hungary the perennial understorey grass Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. may persist through decades and often dominates grasslands maintained by grazing and/or cutting in the place of former oakwoods. This grass also successfully establishes from low- to high-light microenvironments co-ocurring as forest regeneration commences after pasture abandonment. It was assumed that B. pinnatum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such an ecological versatility. This assumption was tested by comparing leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry in the species' three typical microenvironments (full shade under oak canopy, half shade near shrubs, and full sun in unshaded grassland) for plants growing in situ and for those reciprocally transplanted between these microhabitats. Aboveground standing crop of B. pinnatum was greatest near shrubs, indicating that in this microhabitat light limitation (typical in oak shade) and water stress (appearing temporarily in the grassland) are ameliorated. Average leaf lifespan was greatest under oak canopy, while leaf senescence was highest in the grassland. An efficient adjustment to low light was observed both in leaf morphology (specific leaf mass, leaf thickness and bulk tissue density were lowest in oak shade) and in leaf photochemistry (quantum yield of PSII (ΦPSII), photochemical quenching (qP), and non-photochemical energy dissipation (NPQ) were lower, while PSII antenna efficiency (Fv′/Fm′ ) was higher for leaves in oak shade than for others). Transplanted plants showed remarkable phenotypic plasticity since after one year of transfer their leaves did not differ in photochemistry and/or morphology from those growing in situ in the new microenvironment. However, transplants appeared to be more sensitive to the high radiation load in the grassland than in situ ones. Our results confirm the high capacity of B. pinnatum for phenotypical adjustment to habitat light environment, that is consistent with the species' original forest-steppe coenological affinity and also may contribute to the species' persistence after deforestation. Nevertheless, temporary water stress associated with high radiation load in the unshaded grassland appear to pose a limitation on the ecological distribution of this species in Central Europe.",
keywords = "Phenology, Phenotypic plasticity, Specific leaf mass, Sun and shade leaves, Transplant experiment",
author = "Andrea Mojzes and T. Kalapos and Kl{\'a}ra Vir{\'a}gh",
year = "2003",
doi = "10.1078/0367-2530-00102",
language = "English",
volume = "198",
pages = "304--320",
journal = "Flora",
issn = "0367-2530",
publisher = "Urban und Fischer Verlag Jena",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Plasticity of leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry for Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. growing in contrasting microenvironments in a semiarid loess forest-steppe vegetation mosaic

AU - Mojzes, Andrea

AU - Kalapos, T.

AU - Virágh, Klára

PY - 2003

Y1 - 2003

N2 - After clearcutting xerothermic oakwoods once natural in semiarid temperate loess regions of Hungary the perennial understorey grass Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. may persist through decades and often dominates grasslands maintained by grazing and/or cutting in the place of former oakwoods. This grass also successfully establishes from low- to high-light microenvironments co-ocurring as forest regeneration commences after pasture abandonment. It was assumed that B. pinnatum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such an ecological versatility. This assumption was tested by comparing leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry in the species' three typical microenvironments (full shade under oak canopy, half shade near shrubs, and full sun in unshaded grassland) for plants growing in situ and for those reciprocally transplanted between these microhabitats. Aboveground standing crop of B. pinnatum was greatest near shrubs, indicating that in this microhabitat light limitation (typical in oak shade) and water stress (appearing temporarily in the grassland) are ameliorated. Average leaf lifespan was greatest under oak canopy, while leaf senescence was highest in the grassland. An efficient adjustment to low light was observed both in leaf morphology (specific leaf mass, leaf thickness and bulk tissue density were lowest in oak shade) and in leaf photochemistry (quantum yield of PSII (ΦPSII), photochemical quenching (qP), and non-photochemical energy dissipation (NPQ) were lower, while PSII antenna efficiency (Fv′/Fm′ ) was higher for leaves in oak shade than for others). Transplanted plants showed remarkable phenotypic plasticity since after one year of transfer their leaves did not differ in photochemistry and/or morphology from those growing in situ in the new microenvironment. However, transplants appeared to be more sensitive to the high radiation load in the grassland than in situ ones. Our results confirm the high capacity of B. pinnatum for phenotypical adjustment to habitat light environment, that is consistent with the species' original forest-steppe coenological affinity and also may contribute to the species' persistence after deforestation. Nevertheless, temporary water stress associated with high radiation load in the unshaded grassland appear to pose a limitation on the ecological distribution of this species in Central Europe.

AB - After clearcutting xerothermic oakwoods once natural in semiarid temperate loess regions of Hungary the perennial understorey grass Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. may persist through decades and often dominates grasslands maintained by grazing and/or cutting in the place of former oakwoods. This grass also successfully establishes from low- to high-light microenvironments co-ocurring as forest regeneration commences after pasture abandonment. It was assumed that B. pinnatum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such an ecological versatility. This assumption was tested by comparing leaf and shoot morphology and leaf photochemistry in the species' three typical microenvironments (full shade under oak canopy, half shade near shrubs, and full sun in unshaded grassland) for plants growing in situ and for those reciprocally transplanted between these microhabitats. Aboveground standing crop of B. pinnatum was greatest near shrubs, indicating that in this microhabitat light limitation (typical in oak shade) and water stress (appearing temporarily in the grassland) are ameliorated. Average leaf lifespan was greatest under oak canopy, while leaf senescence was highest in the grassland. An efficient adjustment to low light was observed both in leaf morphology (specific leaf mass, leaf thickness and bulk tissue density were lowest in oak shade) and in leaf photochemistry (quantum yield of PSII (ΦPSII), photochemical quenching (qP), and non-photochemical energy dissipation (NPQ) were lower, while PSII antenna efficiency (Fv′/Fm′ ) was higher for leaves in oak shade than for others). Transplanted plants showed remarkable phenotypic plasticity since after one year of transfer their leaves did not differ in photochemistry and/or morphology from those growing in situ in the new microenvironment. However, transplants appeared to be more sensitive to the high radiation load in the grassland than in situ ones. Our results confirm the high capacity of B. pinnatum for phenotypical adjustment to habitat light environment, that is consistent with the species' original forest-steppe coenological affinity and also may contribute to the species' persistence after deforestation. Nevertheless, temporary water stress associated with high radiation load in the unshaded grassland appear to pose a limitation on the ecological distribution of this species in Central Europe.

KW - Phenology

KW - Phenotypic plasticity

KW - Specific leaf mass

KW - Sun and shade leaves

KW - Transplant experiment

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U2 - 10.1078/0367-2530-00102

DO - 10.1078/0367-2530-00102

M3 - Article

VL - 198

SP - 304

EP - 320

JO - Flora

JF - Flora

SN - 0367-2530

IS - 4

ER -