Transpiration efficiency of a tropical pioneer tree (Ficus insipida) in relation to soil fertility

Cernusak, Lucas A., Winter, Klaus, Aranda, Jorge, Turner, Benjamin L., and Marshall, John D. (2007) Transpiration efficiency of a tropical pioneer tree (Ficus insipida) in relation to soil fertility. Journal of Experimental Botany, 58 (13). pp. 3549-3566.

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The response of whole-plant water-use efficiency, termed transpiration efficiency (TE), to variation in soil fertility was assessed in a tropical pioneer tree, Ficus insipida Willd. Measurements of stable isotope ratios (d13C, d18O, d15N), elemental concentrations (C, N, P),plant growth, instantaneous leaf gas exchange, and whole-plant water use were used to analyse the mechanisms controlling TE. Plants were grown individually in 19 l pots with non-limiting soil moisture. Soil fertility was altered by mixing soil with varying proportions of rice husks, and applying a slow release fertilizer. A large variation was observed in leaf photosynthetic rate, mean relative growth rate (RGR), and TE in response to experimental treatments; these traits were well correlated with variation in leaf N concentration. Variation in TE showed a strong dependence on the ratio of intercellular to ambient CO2 mole fractions (ci/ca); both for instantaneous measurements of ci/ca (R2=0.69, P <0.0001, n=30), and integrated estimates based on C isotope discrimination (R2 =0.88, P<0.0001, n=30). On the other hand, variations in the leaf-to-air humidity gradient, unproductive water loss, and respiratory C use probably played only minor roles in modulating TE in the face of variable soil fertility. The pronounced variation in TE resulted from a combination of the strong response of ci/ca to leaf N, and inherently high values of ci/ca for this tropical tree species; these two factors conspired to cause a 4-fold variation among treatments in (1–ci/ca ), the term that actually modifies TE. Results suggest that variation in plant N status could have important implications for the coupling between C and water exchange in tropical forest trees.

Item ID: 40049
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1460-2431
Keywords: carbon isotope, oxygen isotope, soil fertility, transpiration efficiency, tropical tree
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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2015 00:06
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 100%
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