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El Aou-Ouad H.,Research Group on Plant Biology under Mediterranean Conditions | El Aou-Ouad H.,Abdelmalek Essaadi University | Florez-Sarasa I.,Research Group on Plant Biology under Mediterranean Conditions | Ribas-Carbo M.,Research Group on Plant Biology under Mediterranean Conditions | And 3 more authors.
Photosynthetica | Year: 2015

Seedling recruitment is a critical developmental stage in regeneration of plant populations under Mediterranean conditions that strongly depends on water availability. Seed mass and relative growth rate (RGR) may affect the early establishment of seedlings through different physiological processes. Here, we examined the effects of the seed mass and carbon balance on seedling growth under two water regimes in Rhamnus alaternus L. and Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris, two Mediterranean shrubs, showing a different ability to recruit seedlings. Plant water consumption and biomass accumulation (ΔB) were measured during three periods of the growth in order to estimate water use efficiency (WUE), RGR, and its components. Additionally, net photosynthesis and leaf, stem, and root respiration were measured in plants grown in pots well watered and under progressive drought. Rhamnus alaternus showed the higher seed mass, ΔB, and plant WUE than that of R. ludovici-salvatoris in all periods and water regimes. The higher RGR of R. alaternus was observed during the first and the second period, but the reverse trend was registered during the third period as a consequence of the higher initial biomass of R. alaternus. Also, R. alaternus showed a higher specific leaf area and estimated carbon balance than that of R. ludovicisalvatoris. The observed differences in ΔB, estimated carbon balance, seed mass, and WUE between both species could explain their different distribution and ability to recruit seedlings under natural conditions. © 2015, The Institute of Experimental Botany.

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