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Leaf lifetime photosynthetic rate and leaf demography in whole plants of Ipomoea pes-caprae growing with a low supply of calcium, a ‘non-mobile’ nutrient

Journal of Experimental Botany
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erp351
  • Research Papers
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The adaptive significance of leaf longevity has been established in relation to restrictive nutrients that can be retranslocated within the plant. However, the effect of deficiencies in ‘non-mobile’ nutrients on leaf lifespan and photosynthetic carbon gain is uncertain. Calcium is frequently given as an example of an essential nutrient with low phloem mobility that may alter the leaf senescence process. This study has been designed to estimate leaf lifespan, leaf production (Lp) and leaf death (Ld) rates, the age structure of leaves, and the decline in maximum photosynthetic rate (Amax) with age in plants of Ipomoea pes-caprae growing with a full supply of nutrients and with a low Ca supply. The Ca deficiency produced reductions in Lp and leaf lifespan compared with control plants. In spite of the differences in the demographic parameters between treatments in control and low-Ca plants, the percentage of leaves of a given leaf age class is maintained in such a way that the number of leaves per plant continues to increase. No relationship was found between Ca supply and Amax. However, the decline in Amax with leaf senescence was rather sudden in control plants compared with plants growing with a low Ca supply. The importance of simultaneously using the total leaf demographic census and the assimilation rate along with leaf lifespan data in order to understand the performance of whole plants under constrained conditions is discussed.

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