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Links between environment and stomatal size through evolutionary time in Proteaceae


Jordan, GJ and Carpenter, RJ and Holland, BR and Beeton, NJ and Woodhams, MD and Brodribb, TJ, Links between environment and stomatal size through evolutionary time in Proteaceae, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, 287, (1919) Article 20192876. ISSN 0962-8452 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.2876


The size of plant stomata (adjustable pores that determine the uptake of CO2 and loss of water from leaves) is considered to be evolutionarily important. This study uses fossils from the major Southern Hemisphere family Proteaceae to test whether stomatal cell size responded to Cenozoic climate change. We measured the length and abundance of guard cells (the cells forming stomata), the area of epidermal pavement cells, stomatal index and maximum stomatal conductance from a comprehensive sample of fossil cuticles of Proteaceae, and extracted published estimates of past temperature and atmospheric CO2. We developed a novel test based on stochastic modelling of trait evolution to test correlations among traits. Guard cell length increased, and stomatal density decreased significantly with decreasing palaeotemperature. However, contrary to expectations, stomata tended to be smaller and more densely packed at higher atmospheric CO2. Thus, associations between stomatal traits and palaeoclimate over the last 70 million years in Proteaceae suggest that stomatal size is significantly affected by environmental factors other than atmospheric CO2. Guard cell length, pavement cell area, stomatal density and stomatal index covaried in ways consistent with coordinated development of leaf tissues.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:CO2, Cenozoic, fossil, guard cell, plant evolution
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Jordan, GJ (Professor Greg Jordan)
UTAS Author:Carpenter, RJ (Dr Raymond Carpenter)
UTAS Author:Holland, BR (Professor Barbara Holland)
UTAS Author:Beeton, NJ (Dr Nicholas Beeton)
UTAS Author:Woodhams, MD (Dr Michael Woodhams)
UTAS Author:Brodribb, TJ (Professor Tim Brodribb)
ID Code:137051
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP160100809)
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2020-01-30
Last Modified:2020-03-10
Downloads:19 View Download Statistics

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