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Nature vs nurture in the leaf morphology of Southern beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae)


Hovenden, MJ and Vanderschoor, JK, Nature vs nurture in the leaf morphology of Southern beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii (Nothofagaceae), New Phytologist, 161, (2) pp. 585-594. ISSN 0028-646X (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1046/j.1469-8137.2003.00931.x


Leaf morphology varies predictably with altitude, and leaf morphological features have been used to estimate average temperatures from fossil leaves. The altitude-leaf morphology relationship is confounded by the two processes of acclimation and adaptation, which reflect environmental and genetic influences, respectively. Here we describe the relationship between altitude and leaf morphology for Southern beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii (Hook.) Oerst. Cuttings from several trees from each of four altitudes were grown in a common glasshouse experiment, and leaf morphology related to both genotype and altitude of origin. Genotype had a significant impact on leaf morphology, but in the field there was also a significant, overriding effect of altitude. This altitude effect disappeared in glasshouse-grown plants for all morphological variables other than leaf thickness and specific leaf area. These results show that, while leaf length, width and area are partially controlled by genetic factors, these variables are plastic and respond to environmental influences associated with a particular altitude. Thus altitudinal trends in leaf size in N. cunninghamii are unlikely to be the result of adaptation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
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 environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Hovenden, MJ (Professor Mark Hovenden)
UTAS Author:Vanderschoor, JK (Mrs Jacqueline Vanderschoor)
ID Code:32115
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:84
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2004-08-01
Last Modified:2010-06-05

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