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Journal of Arid Land
Research Articles     
Phenotypic plasticity in response to soil moisture availability in the clonal plant Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass.
JianCheng WANG, Xiang SHI, DaoYuan ZHANG, LinKe YIN
1 Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China; 2 Turpan Eremophytes Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Turpan 838008, China; 3 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 4 Department of Forestry, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000, China
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Abstract  Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass is a dwarf clonal shrubby legume developed on the windward slopes of mobile or semi-fixed sand dunes of Central Asia. It is assumed that E. songoricum must possess a high degree of phenotypic plasticity for such a heterogeneous habitat. The variations of E. songoricum plants growing in two typical microhabitats (the upper slope and the lower slope of semi-mobile dune) were investigated. The morphological characteristics and the biomass allocation patterns were measured and compared at the clonal fragment level. Compared with the clonal fragment on the lower slope of dune, the clonal fragment on the upper slope of the dune (a) declined in total biomass and ramet height, (b) increased the length of rhizomes and the number of roots, (c) increased the degree of asymmetry, and (d) heightened allocation to the belowground biomass. Our results confirmed the hypothesis of high phenotypic adjustment capacity of E. songoricum to habitat moisture availability. Phenotypic plasticity of E. songoricum contributed to reduce the damage risk, led to an environmentally induced specialization in function of resources exploitation, resulted in its persistence in heterogeneous environments and was adaptive in sand dune environment.

Key wordseuhalophyte      Suaeda physophora      NaCl      KCl      NO3-     
Received: 28 June 2010      Published: 07 March 2011
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JianCheng WANG, Xiang SHI, DaoYuan ZHANG, LinKe YIN. Phenotypic plasticity in response to soil moisture availability in the clonal plant Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass.. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(1): 34-39.

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