Naturally-primed life strategy plasticity of dimorphic Aethionema arabicum facilitates optimal habitat colonization. / Bhattacharya, Samik; Sperber, Katja; Özüdogru, Baris; Leubner-Metzger, Gerhard; Mummenhoff, Klaus.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 9, 16108, 06.11.2019, p. 1-11.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Plasticity in plant dispersal traits can maximise the ability of a plant species to survive in stressful environments during colonization. Aethionema arabicum (Brassicaceae) is a dimorphic annual species that is hypothesized to survive stressful conditions during colonization due to adaptive plasticity in lifephase
(vegetative vs sexual) and fruit morph (dehiscent [DEH] vs indehiscent fruits [IND]). We tested for adaptive plasticity in life-phase and fruit morphs along laboratory environmental stress gradients found in the natural habitats of Ae. arabicum. We considered optimal environmental conditions (750–2000 m above sea level) to be those that resulted in the following fitness parameters: higher
biomass and a higher total number of fruits compared to stressful habitats. We found evidence of plasticity in life-phase and fruit-morph along a stressful environmental gradient. High hydrothermal stress proportionally increased the number of dehiscent morphs and non-dormant seeds germinating in autumn. This offsets natural phenology towards dry and cold winter (less hydrothermal stress), yielding fewer fruits that dehisce in the next generation. We conclude that the plastic responses of Ae. arabicum to natural stress gradients constitute a strategy of long-term adaptive benefits and favouring potential pathways of colonisation of the optimal habitat.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16108
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2019
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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