Growth responses to waterlogging and drainage of woody Hakea (Proteaceae) seedlings, originating from contrasting habitats in south-western Australia

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    We investigated the responses of seven woody Hakea (Proteaceae) species (two populations of each), to two months of waterlogging and subsequent drainage, in a controlled glasshouse experiment. The species originated from contrasting environments (winter-wetland versus non-wetland habitats), and differed in abundance (endangered ironstone species versus common species). Waterlogging arrested growth of the main root system, and stimulated the formation of superficial adventitious roots just below the root/shoot junction in all species. Wetland species produced at least twice the amount of adventitious root dry mass of that of non-wetland species, due to differences in number, length or degree of branching. Their adventitious roots also tended to have higher porosities (7-10% versus 5-6% gas spaces). The relative amount of adventitious roots formed was strongly, positively correlated with the maintenance of shoot growth, and only the non-wetland species showed significant shoot growth reductions (19%) upon waterlogging. Dry mass percentage of stems and leaves, and leaf dry mass per area (LMA) increased considerably during waterlogging in all species (averages of 15, 29 and 27%, respectively), returning to the values of continuously drained control plants after drainage. Similarly, upon drainage, a suppression of shoot growth (average 35%) and a stimulation of root growth (average 50%) restored the root mass ratios to those of control plants. We found a negative correlation between the maintenance of growth during waterlogging versus that after waterlogging, suggesting a trade-off in functioning of the superficial adventitious roots between waterlogged and drained conditions. The rare winter-wet ironstone endemics resembled the common winter-wet species in most of their responses to waterlogging and drainage. Therefore, the results presented here cannot offer an explanation for their different distribution patterns. Our results suggest that non-wetland species may be disadvantaged in a wetland environment, due to their lower capacity to form adventitious roots resulting in stronger growth reductions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-70
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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