Background: Limitations to plant growth imposed by the Mediterranean climate are mainly due to carbon balance in response to stress factors. In particular, water stress associated to high air temperature and irradiance in summer causes a marked decrease in CO2 assimilation. Air temperature sensitivity of photosynthesis (P-N) differs from that of leaf respiration (R-D). P-N often decreases sharply at temperature above its optimum while R-D increases exponentially over short term rises in temperature. Nevertheless, the impact of water deficit on R-D is still far from clear with reports in literature including decreases, maintenance or increases in its rates. The ratio R-D/P-N can be considered a simple approach to leaf carbon balance because it indicates the percentage of photosynthates that is respired. Results: The results underline different morphological, anatomical and physiological traits of the evergreen species co-occurring in the Mediterranean maquis which are indicative of their adaptive capability to Mediterranean stress factors. The ratio R-D/P-N varies from 0.15 +/- 0.04 in autumn, 0.24 +/- 0.05 in spring through 0.29 +/- 0.15 in winter to 0.46 +/- 0.11 in summer. The lower R-D/P-N in autumn and spring underlines the highest P-N rates during the favorable periods when resources are not limited and leaves take in roughly three to five times more CO2 than they lose by respiration. On the contrary, the highest R-D/P-N ratio in summer underlines the lowest sensitivity of respiration to drought. Among the considered species, Quercus ilex and Pistacia lentiscus have the largest tolerance to low winter temperatures while Phillyrea latifolia and Myrtus communis to drought, and Phillyrea latifolia the highest recovery capability after the first rainfall following drought. Conclusions: The Mediterranean evergreen specie shows a different tolerance to Mediterranean climate stress factors. The predicted global warming might differently affect carbon balance of the considered species, with a possible change in Mediterranean shrublands composition in the long-term. Understanding the carbon balance of plants in water limited environments is crucial in order to make informed land management decisions. Moreover, our results underline the importance of including seasonal variations of photosynthesis and respiration in carbon balance models.
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|Titolo:||Morphological, anatomical and physiological leaf traits of Q. ilex, P. latifolia, P. lentiscus, and M. communis and their response to Mediterranean climate stress factors|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|