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C4 grasses adapted to low precipitation habitats show traits related to greater mesophyll conductance and lower leaf hydraulic conductance
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  • VARSHA PATHARE,
  • Balasaheb Vitthal Sonawane,
  • Nuria Koteyeva,
  • Asaph B. Cousins
VARSHA PATHARE
Washington State University
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Balasaheb Vitthal Sonawane
Washington State University
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Nuria Koteyeva
V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences
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Asaph B. Cousins
Washington State University
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Abstract

In habitats with low water availability, a fundamental challenge for plants will be to maximize photosynthetic C-gain whilst minimizing transpirational water-loss. This tradeoff between C-gain and water-loss can in part be achieved through the coordination of leaf-level photosynthetic and hydraulic traits. To test the relationship of photosynthetic C-gain and transpirational water-loss we grew under common growth conditions 18 C4 grasses adapted to habitats with different mean annual precipitation (MAP) and measured leaf-level structural and anatomical traits associated with mesophyll conductance (gm) and leaf hydraulic conductance (Kleaf). The C4 grasses adapted to lower MAP showed greater mesophyll surface area exposed to intercellular air spaces (Smes) and adaxial stomatal density (SDada) which supported greater gm. These grasses also showed greater leaf thickness and vein-to-epidermis distance which may lead to lower Kleaf. Collectively, these leaf traits associated with gm and Kleaf scaled positively with photosynthetic rates (Anet) and leaf-level water-use efficiency (WUE) with low MAP adapted grasses exhibiting greater Anet and WUE. In summary, we identify a suite of leaf-level traits that appear important for adaptation of C4 grasses to habitats with low MAP and may be useful to identify C4 species showing greater Anet and WUE in drier conditions.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

28 Apr 2020Submitted to Plant, Cell & Environment
29 Apr 2020Assigned to Editor
29 Apr 2020Submission Checks Completed
30 Apr 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 May 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending