DOI: 10.1101/493932Dec 11, 2018Paper

Low genetic variation in tolerance to defoliation in a long-lived tropical understorey palm

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Merel JansenNiels P.R. Anten


Defoliation is a ubiquitous stressor that can strongly limit plant performance. Tolerance to defoliation is often associated with compensatory growth. Genetic variation in tolerance and compensatory growth responses, in turn, play an important role in the evolutionary adaptation of plants to changing disturbance regimes but this issue has been poorly investigated for long-lived woody species. We quantified genetic variation in plant growth and growth parameters, tolerance to defoliation and compensatory responses to defoliation for a population of the understorey palm Chamaedorea elegans. In addition, we evaluated genetic correlations between growth and tolerance to defoliation. We performed a greenhouse experiment with 731 seedlings from 47 families with twelve or more individuals of C. elegans. Seeds were collected in southeast Mexico within a 0.7 ha natural forest area. A two-third defoliation treatment (repeated every two months) was applied to half of the individuals to simulate leaf loss. Compensatory responses in specific leaf area, biomass allocation to leaves and growth per unit leaf area were quantified. We found that growth rate was highly heritable and that plants compensated strongly for leaf loss. However, genetic...Continue Reading

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