Fine-tuning functional syndromes for stressful environments: lessons on survival from the South African resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolia
Resilience to abiotic stress is associated with a suite of functional traits related to defense and longevity. Stress tolerant plants are generally slow growing with extended leave lifespans and reduced allocation to reproduction. Resurrection plants are ideal systems to test for trade-offs associated with stress tolerance due to their extreme resiliency. While, growth defense trade-offs are well-characterized, few studies have tested for natural variation associated with tolerating the harshest environments. Here, we surveyed a suite of functional traits related to stress tolerance, leaf economics, and reproductive allocation in natural populations of the South African resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolia. We selected three distinct field sites in South Africa ranging from mesic to xeric. Despite considerable environmental variation across the study area, M. flabellifolia plants were extremely and similarly stress tolerant at all sites. However, we detected notable variation in other life history and morphological traits. Plants in more mesic sites were larger, faster growing, and had more inflorescences. In contrast, plants from the most xeric sites appeared to invest more in persistence and defense, with lower growth rates and less reproductive allocation. Together, this suggests that desiccation tolerance is a binary trait in M. flabellifolia with little natural variation, but that other phenotypes are more labile. The trait syndromes exhibited by plants at the different study sites align with general expectations about growth defense tradeoffs associated with the colonization of extreme environments. We show that plants from the least stressful sites are more reproductive and faster growing, whereas plants from the most stressful sites were slower growing and less reproductive. These findings suggest that M. flabellifolia plants are finely tuned to their environment.
- Downloaded 89 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 154,818
- In ecology: 5,669
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 95,032
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 10,875
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!