Carbon Integration in Plantago Aristata (Plantaginaceae): The Reproductive Effects of Defoliation

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Margaret L. Horton, Lecturer (Creator)
Elizabeth P. Lacey, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Patterns of carbon integration in aclonal species are poorly understood in spite of their potential to influence individual fitness. To provide more information about these patterns, we performed a defoliation experiment with P. aristata. We examined, at the metameric level, the reproductive responses to the removal of the major carbon sources within metamers. Bracts on marked reproductive spikes and leaves subtending these spikes were removed at three stages of reproductive maturity: spike elongation, flowering, and fruiting. Spike dry weight and length, capsule number, seeds per capsule, and seed weight were measured. We tested the hypothesis that seed weight would respond least to defoliation. We also performed a complementary 14C translocation experiment to measure the amount of radioactive carbon moving into the marked spikes from outside the metamer. Defoliation depressed all components of reproduction within marked spikes, and little 14C was translocated from outside the metamer into the reproductive spikes, even those that were defoliated. Both results support the view that reproductive metamers in this species are largely autonomous with respect to their carbon budget. Defoliation during spike elongation most depressed reproduction, and bract removal depressed reproduction more than did leaf removal. The data suggest that bracts compensate for leaf removal by increasing their photosynthetic rate; however, the ability to compensate differs among plant populations. Of all the reproductive components, seed weight was least affected by defoliation. The data show, however, that the time of defoliation relative to reproductive development influences which reproductive components are affected.

Additional Information

American Journal of Botany 8 1(3): 278-286. 1994.
Language: English
Date: 1994
Plantains, Ramets, Plant physiology, Carbon, Reproduction, Seed production, Carbon deprivation, Defoliation

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