Leaf density and chemical composition explain variation in leaf mass area with spectral composition among 11 widespread forbs in a common garden

Qing Wei Wang, Chenggang Liu, Thomas Matthew Robson, Kouki Hikosaka, Hiroko Kurokawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Leaf mass per area (LMA) is a key leaf functional trait correlated with plant strategies dictating morphology, physiology, and biochemistry. Although sunlight is generally accepted as a dominant factor driving LMA, the contribution of each spectral region of sunlight in shaping LMA is poorly understood. In the present study, we grew 11 widespread forb species in a common garden and dissected the traits underpinning differences in LMA, such as its morphological components (leaf density [LD] and leaf thickness [LT]), macroelement, and metabolite composition under five spectral-attenuation treatments: (1) transmitting c. 95% of the whole solar spectrum (> 280 nm), (2) attenuating ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B), (3) attenuating both UV-A and UV-B radiation, (4) attenuating UV radiation and blue light, (5) attenuating UV radiation, blue, and green light. We found that LMA, LD, and chemical traits varied significantly across species depending on spectral treatments. LMA was significantly increased by UV-B radiation and green light, while LD was increased by UV-A but decreased by blue light. LMA positively correlated with LD across treatments but was only weakly related to LT, suggesting that LD was a better determinate of LMA for this specific treatment. Regarding leaf elemental and metabolite composition, carbon, nitrogen, and total phenolics were all positively correlated with LMA, whereas lignin, non-structural carbohydrates, and soluble sugars had negative relationships with LMA. These trends imply a tradeoff between biomass allocation to structural and metabolically functional components. In conclusion, sunlight can spectrally drive LMA mainly through modifying functional and structural support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-708
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Volume173
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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