Shade affects responses to drought and flooding - acclimation to multiple stresses in bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara L.).


Plants exposed to environmental stress often respond by a change in their phenotypic traits. These changes in trait expression may alleviate the negative effect of such stress factors. However, if multiple stresses are present, responses are likely to be less predictable and hence do not necessarily correlate to plant performance. This study tested if this expectation was true, by subjecting Solanum dulcamara plants to various simultaneous stress factors. Plants were grown in well-watered conditions, drought or flooding, and exposed to either full light or shade for 4 weeks. Shoot and root biomass, stem morphological parameters, such as height, number of nodes and length of stem internodes, and leaf traits like length, specific leaf area, chlorophyll content and stomatal conductance were determined. Both variation in light and in water availability typically caused slower growth, and resulted in distinct phenotypic changes in stem, leaf and root traits. However, effects of stresses on the expression of traits were not always additive. Instead, some combined stress responses (e.g. leaf size) appeared to be limited by physical or physiological constraints, whereas other responses were opposite to each other (e.g. root:shoot ratio), resulting in an intermediate phenotype in the combined stress treatment. These data suggest that in natural conditions, where combined stress factors are likely to be present, the optimal phenotype may not necessarily be expressed. Responses of plants to multiple stress factors may therefore not be associated with immediate advantages in terms of increased performance.

DOI: 10.1111/plb.12304

Cite this paper

@article{Visser2016ShadeAR, title={Shade affects responses to drought and flooding - acclimation to multiple stresses in bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara L.).}, author={Eric J W Visser and Q Zhang and F De Gruyter and Sladjana Martens and Harriet Huber}, journal={Plant biology}, year={2016}, volume={18 Suppl 1}, pages={112-9} }