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      Divergent Adaptive Strategies by Two Co-occurring Epiphytic Orchids to Water Stress: Escape or Avoidance?


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          Due to the fluctuating water availability in the arboreal habitat, epiphytic plants are considered vulnerable to climate change and anthropogenic disturbances. Although co-occurring taxa have been observed divergent adaptive performances in response to drought, the underlying physiological and morphological mechanisms by which epiphyte species cope with water stress remain poorly understood. In the present study, two co-occurring epiphytic orchids with different phenologies were selected to investigate their drought-resistance performances. We compared their functional traits, and monitored their physiological performances in a 25-days of drought treatment. In contrast to the deciduous species Pleione albiflora, the evergreen species Coelogyne corymbosa had different root anatomical structures and higher values for saturated water content of pseudobulbs. Moreover, plants of C. corymbosa had thicker leaves and epidermis, denser veins and stomata, and higher values for leaf mass per unit area and the time required to dry saturated leaves to 70% relative water content. However, samples from that species had lower values for net photosynthetic rate ( A n), stomatal length and chlorophyll content per unit dry mass. Nevertheless, due to greater capacity for water storage and conservation, C. corymbosa maintained higher A n, stomatal conductance ( g s), and instantaneous water-use efficiency during severe drought period, and their values for leaf water potential were higher after the water stress treatment. By Day 10 after irrigation was restarted, only C. corymbosa plants recovered their values for A n and g s to levels close to those calculated prior to the imposition of water stress. Our results suggest that the different performance responding to drought and re-watering in two co-occurring epiphytic orchids is related to water-related traits and these two species have divergent adaptive mechanisms. Overall, C. corymbosa demonstrates drought avoidance by enhancing water uptake and storage, and by reducing water losses while P. albiflora employs a drought escape strategy by fixing more carbon during growing season and shedding leaves and roots at dry season, leaving a dormant pseudobulb to minimize transpiration. These findings may improve our understanding of the potential effects that climate change can have on the population dynamics of different epiphytic taxa.

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          Atmospheric warming and the amplification of precipitation extremes.

          Climate models suggest that extreme precipitation events will become more common in an anthropogenically warmed climate. However, observational limitations have hindered a direct evaluation of model-projected changes in extreme precipitation. We used satellite observations and model simulations to examine the response of tropical precipitation events to naturally driven changes in surface temperature and atmospheric moisture content. These observations reveal a distinct link between rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods. Furthermore, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes is found to be larger than that predicted by models, implying that projections of future changes in rainfall extremes in response to anthropogenic global warming may be underestimated.
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            Protecting against water loss: analysis of the barrier properties of plant cuticles.

            The cuticle is the major barrier against uncontrolled water loss from leaves, fruits and other primary parts of higher plants. More than 100 mean values for water permeabilities determined with isolated leaf and fruit cuticles from 61 plant species are compiled and discussed in relation to plant organ, natural habitat and morphology. The maximum barrier properties of plant cuticles exceed that of synthetic polymeric films of equal thickness. Cuticular water permeability is not correlated to the thickness of the cuticle or to wax coverage. Relationships between cuticular permeability, wax composition and physical properties of the cuticle are evaluated. Cuticular permeability to water increases on the average by a factor of 2 when leaf surface temperature is raised from 15 degrees C to 35 degrees C. Organic compounds of anthropogenic and biogenic origin may enhance cuticular permeability. The pathway taken by water across the cuticular transport barrier is reviewed. The conclusion from this discussion is that the bulk of water diffuses as single molecules across a lipophilic barrier while a minor fraction travels along polar pores. Open questions concerning the mechanistic understanding of the plant cuticular transport barrier and the role the plant cuticle plays in ensuring the survival and reproductive success of an individual plant are indicated.
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              Smaller, faster stomata: scaling of stomatal size, rate of response, and stomatal conductance

              Maximum and minimum stomatal conductance, as well as stomatal size and rate of response, are known to vary widely across plant species, but the functional relationship between these static and dynamic stomatal properties is unknown. The objective of this study was to test three hypotheses: (i) operating stomatal conductance under standard conditions (g op) correlates with minimum stomatal conductance prior to morning light [g min(dawn)]; (ii) stomatal size (S) is negatively correlated with g op and the maximum rate of stomatal opening in response to light, (dg/dt)max; and (iii) g op correlates negatively with instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUE) despite positive correlations with maximum rate of carboxylation (Vc max) and light-saturated rate of electron transport (J max). Using five closely related species of the genus Banksia, the above variables were measured, and it was found that all three hypotheses were supported by the results. Overall, this indicates that leaves built for higher rates of gas exchange have smaller stomata and faster dynamic characteristics. With the aid of a stomatal control model, it is demonstrated that higher g op can potentially expose plants to larger tissue water potential gradients, and that faster stomatal response times can help offset this risk.

                Author and article information

                Front Plant Sci
                Front Plant Sci
                Front. Plant Sci.
                Frontiers in Plant Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                03 May 2016
                : 7
                : 588
                [1] 1Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences Kunming, China
                [2] 2Yunnan Key Laboratory for Wild Plant Resources Kunming, China
                [3] 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, China
                Author notes

                Edited by: Boris Rewald, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

                Reviewed by: Jie He, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Marisa Santos, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

                *Correspondence: Shi-Bao Zhang, sbzhang@ 123456mail.kib.ac.cn

                This article was submitted to Functional Plant Ecology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Plant Science

                Copyright © 2016 Zhang, Hu and Zhang.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 12 January 2016
                : 18 April 2016
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 74, Pages: 11, Words: 0
                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of China 10.13039/501100001809
                Award ID: 31170315
                Award ID: 31370362
                Award ID: 31400289
                Funded by: Natural Science Foundation of Yunnan Province 10.13039/501100005273
                Award ID: 2013FA044
                Plant Science
                Original Research

                Plant science & Botany
                epiphyte,drought,coexistence,adaptive strategy,water relations,photosynthesis,leaf phenology,functional trait


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