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Does ontogeny modulate irradiance-elicited plasticity of leaf traits in saplings of rain-forest tree species? A test with Dicorynia guianensis and Tachigali melinonii (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae)

Coste S., Roggy J.C., Garraud L., Heuret P., Nicolini E.A., Dreyer E.. 2009. Annals of Forest Science, 66 (7) : 12 p..

Irradiance elicits a large plasticity in leaf traits, but little is known about the modulation of this plasticity by ontogeny. Interactive effects of relative irradiance and ontogeny were assessed on leaf traits for two tropical rainforest tree species: Dicorynia guianensis Amshoff and Tachigali melinonii (Harms) Barneby (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae). Eleven morphological and physiological leaf traits, relative to photosynthetic performance, were measured on saplings at three different architectural development stages (ASD 1, 2 and 3) and used to derive composite traits like photosynthetic N-use efficiency. Measurements were made along a natural irradiance gradient. The effect of ASD was very visible and differed between the two species. For Dicorynia guianensis, only leaf mass-per-area (LMA) significantly increased with ASDs whereas for Tachigali melinonii, almost all traits were affected by ASD: LMA, leaf N content and photosynthetic capacity increased from ASD 1 to ASD 3. Photosynthetic N-use-efficiency was not affected by ASD in any species. Leaf traits were severely modulated by irradiance, whereas the degree of plasticity was very similar among ASDs. Only few interactions were detected between irradiance and ASD, for leaf thickness, carbon content, and the ratio Chl/N in T. melinonii and for photosynthetic capacity in D. guianensis. We conclude that ontogenic development and irradiance-elicited plasticity modulated leaf traits, with almost no interaction, i.e., the degree of irradiance-elicited plasticity was stable across development stages and independent of ontogeny in these two species, at least in the early stages of development assessed here.

Mots-clés : stade de développement végétal; développement biologique; anatomie végétale; photosynthèse; analyse de tissu foliaire; forêt tropicale humide; feuille; plasticité phénotypique; irradiance; architecture végétale; tachigali melinonii; dicorynia guianensis

Thématique : Physiologie et biochimie végétale; Anatomie et morphologie des plantes

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