|Table of Contents|

Morphological adaptation of wild Fritillaria unibracteata to alpine conditions in the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau(PDF)

Chinese Journal of Applied & Environmental Biology[ISSN:1006-687X/CN:51-1482/Q]

2014 06
Research Field:
Publishing date:


Morphological adaptation of wild Fritillaria unibracteata to alpine conditions in the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
XU Bo WANG Jinniu GUO Haixia SHI Fusu WU Ning
1Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China3International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau morphological characteristics elevation gradients life stage Fritillaria unibracteata

Fritillaria unibracteata is a liliaceous perennial forb, mainly distributed in the alpine belt of the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Because of the over-harvest due to its prominent medicinal value, F. unibracteata is becoming endangered in its native habitats. It is important thus to understand the ecological adaptation of F. unibracteata to alpine conditions, which may hopefully promote conservation of its wild populations. This study aimed at answering three scientific questions regarding F. unibracteata: 1) Whether environmental factors in alpine belt and the current life stages of the plant affect the morphological characteristics? 2) How do the morphological characteristics change along with altitudinal gradients? and 3) How do the morphological characteristics vary during the growth and development of the plant? Field sampling survey was carried out to collect wild F. unibracteata at different elevations in the alpine belt of Songpan County. Plant height (PH) was measured in the field. Collected samples were cleaned and different organs separated in the laboratory; the horizontal axis length (HAL) and vertical axis length (VAL) of bulbs, single leaf area (LA) of F. unibracteata were measured. Then, the measured leaves were weighed after oven dry at 65 °C to calculate the specific leaf area (SLA). The results showed that both elevation and life stage significantly affected PH, LA and SLA, and the interaction between elevation and life stage was significant. Besides, the morphological characteristics of F. unibracteata presented obvious spatial and temporal variations. Firstly, the PH, HAL and VAL of bulbs, LA and SLA of F. unibracteata decreased strikingly with the increase of elevation, showing a similar tendency in response to altitudinal changes at all life stages. In fact, altitude gradient representing a temperature factor was important in limiting the growth and development of alpine plants such as F. unibracteata. Secondly, with the shift of life stages, the PH increased obviously. Both the HAL and VAL of bulbs increased at first and then decreased with the advance of life history. The LA and SLA, however, showed a decreasing trend along with the growth and development of plants. The results indicated that the morphological characteristics of F. unibracteata can adjust to the alpine environmental variations, which is important for their long-term survival in such a harsh environment.


1 Miner BG, Sultan SE, Morgan SG, Padilla DK, Relyea RA. Ecological consequences of phenotypic plasticity [J]. Trends Ecol Evol, 2005, 20 (12): 685-692
2 Picotte JJ, Rhode JM, Cruzan MB. Leaf morphological responses to variation in water availability for plants in the Piriqueta caroliniana complex [J]. Plant Ecol, 2009, 200 (2): 267-275
3 McDonald PG, Fonseca CR, Overton J, Westoby M. Leaf-size divergence along rainfall and soil-nutrient gradients: is the method of size reduction common among clades [J]? Funct Ecol, 2003, 17 (1): 50-57
4 Valladares F, Gianoli E, Gómez JM. Ecological limits to plant phenotypic plasticity [J]. New Phytol, 2007, 176 (4): 749-763
5 England JR, Attiwill PM. Changes in leaf morphology and anatomy with tree age and height in the broadleaved evergreen species, Eucalyptus regnans F. Muell [J]. Trees, 2006, 20 (1): 79-90
6 Zotz G, Wilhelm K, Becker A. Heteroblasty—a review [J]. Bot Rev, 2011, 77 (2): 109-151
7 Dang-Le AT, Edelin C, Le-Cong K. Ontogenetic variations in leaf morphology of the tropical rain forest species Dipterocarpus alatus Roxb. ex G. Don [J]. Tree, 2013, 27 (3): 773-786
8 Evans GC. The Quantitative Analysis of Plant Growth [M]. Los Angeles, CA, USA: University of California Press, 1972
9 韵海霞, 陈志.暗紫贝母的研究概况[J]. 中成药, 2010, 32 (6): 1020-1024 [Yun HX, Chen Z. Research survey of Fritillaria unibracteata [J]. Chin Trad Patent Med, 2010, 32 (6): 1020-1024]
10 徐波, 王金牛, 石福孙, 高景, 吴宁.青藏高原东缘野生暗紫贝母生物量分配格局对高山生态环境的适应[J]. 植物生态学报, 2013, 37 (3): 187-196 [Xu B, Wang JN, Shi FS, Gao J, Wu N. Adaptation of biomass allocation patterns of wild Fritillaria unibracteata to alpine environment in the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau [J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2013, 37 (3): 187-196]
11 陈士林, 肖小河, 陈善墉.暗紫贝母植被分布格局的数值分析[J]. 西南师范大学学报(自然科学版), 1997, 22 (4): 416-420 [Chen SL, Xiao XH, Chen SY. Unmerical studies on spatial distribution pattern of Fritillaria unibracteata community [J]. J Southwest China Norm Univ (Nat Sci Ed), 1997, 22 (4): 416-420]
12 Cavallero L, Galetti L, López D, McCargo J, Barberi IM. Morphological variation of the leaves of Aechmea distichantha Lem. plants from contrasting habitats of a Chaco forest: a trade-off between leaf area and mechanical support [J]. Brazil J Biosci, 2011, 9 (4): 455-464
13 Auld JR, Agrwal AA, Relyea RA. Re-evaluating the costs and limits of adaptive phenotypic plasticity [J]. Proc R Soc B: Biol Sci, 2010, 277 (1681): 503-511
14 Bloom AJ, Chapin FS, Mooney HA. Resource limitation in plants—an economic analogue [J]. Annu Rev Ecol Syst, 1985, 16: 363-392
15 Poorter H, Niklas KJ, Reich PB, Oleksyn J, Poot P, Mommer L. Biomass allocation to leaves, stems and roots: meta-analyses of interspecific variation and environmental control [J]. New Phytol, 2012, 193 (1): 30-50
16 K?rner C. Alpine Plant Life: Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain Ecosystems [M]. 2nd ed. Belin Heideberg: Springer-Verlag, 2003. 60-211
17 Fabbro T, K?rner C. Altitudinal differences in flower traits and reproductive allocation [J]. Flora, 2004, 199 (1): 70-81
18 Cheplick GP. Evolutionary significance of genotypic variation in developmental reaction norms for a perennial grass in competition [J]. Evol Ecol, 2003, 17 (2): 175-196
19 Valladares F, Guzmán B. Canopy structure and spatial heterogeneity of understory light in abandoned Holm oak woodlands [J]. Ann For Sci, 2006, 63 (7): 749-761
20 Valladares F, Gianoli E, Gómez JM. Ecological limits to plant phenotypic plasticity [J]. New Phytol, 2007, 176 (4): 749-763
21 Ma WL, Shi PL, Li WH, He YT, Zhang XZ, Shen ZX. Changes in individual plant traits and biomass allocation in alpine meadow with elevation variation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau [J]. Sci China Life Sci (Life Sci Ed), 2010, 53 (9): 1142-1151
22 He JS, Wang ZH, Wang XP, Schmid B, Zuo WY, Zhou M, Zheng CY, Wang MF, Fang JY. A test of generality of leaf trait relationship on the Tibetan Plateau [J]. New Phytol, 2006, 170 (4): 377-385
23 拉琼, 张文驹, 欧朗, 德吉. 珠穆朗玛峰绒布沟西藏沙棘生境类型及海拔梯度下表型变异[J]. 应用与环境生物学报, 2010, 16 (2): 173-178 [La Q, Zhang WJ, Ou L, De J. Habitat types and phenotypic variation of Hippophae tibetana along an altitudinal gradient in the Rongbu valley of Mt. Everest, Tibet, China. Chin J Appl Environ Biol, 2010, 16 (2): 173-178]
24 K?rner C, Larcher W. Plant life in cold climates [J]. Symp Soc Exp Biol, 1988, 42: 25-57
25 Zhao ZG, Du GZ, Zhou XH, Wang MT, Ren QJ. Variations with altitude in reproductive traits and resource allocation of three Tibetan species of Ranunculaceae [J]. Austr J Bot, 2006, 54 (7): 691-700
26 Guo H, Mazer SJ, Du GZ. Geographic variation in primary sex allocation per flower within and among 12 species of Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae): proportional male investment increases with elevation [J]. Am J Bot, 2010, 97 (8): 1334-1341
27 Poorter H, Niinemets ?, Poorter L, Wright IJ, Villar R. Causes and consequences of variation in leaf mass per area (LMA): a meta-analysis [J]. New Phytol, 2009, 182 (3): 565-588
28 Milla R, Reich PB. Multi-trait interactions, not phylogeny, fine-tune leaf size reduction with increasing altitude [J]. Ann Bot, 2011, 107 (3): 455-465
29 Gratani L, Catoni R, Pirone G, Frattaroli AR, Varone L. Physiological and morphological leaf trait variations in two Apennine plant species in response to different altitudes [J]. Photosynthetica, 2012, 50 (1): 15-23
30 Wolfe, JA. Paleoclimatic estimates from tertiary leaf assemblages [J]. Annu Rev Earth Planetary Sci, 1995, 23: 119-142
31 宋璐璐, 樊江文, 吴绍洪.植物叶片性状沿海拔梯度变化研究进展[J]. 地理科学进展, 2011, 30 (11): 1431-1439 [Song LL, Fan JW, Wu SH. Research advances on changes of leaf traits along an altitude gradient [J]. Progr Geogr, 2011, 30 (11): 1431-1439]
32 Wright IJ, Westoby M, Reich PB. Convergence towards higher leaf mass per area in dry and nutrient-poor habitats has different consequences for leaf life span [J]. J Ecol, 2002, 90 (3): 534-543
33 Vernescu C, Ryser P. Constraints on leaf structural traits in wetland plants. Am J Bot, 2009, 96 (6): 1068-1074
34 Hultine KR, Marshall JD. Altitude trends in conifer leaf morphology and stable carbon isotope composition [J]. Oecologia, 2000, 123 (1): 32-40
35 Grime JP. Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory [J]. Am Nat, 1977, 111 (982): 1169-1194
36 K?rner C. The nutritional status of plants from high altitudes [J]. Oecologia, 1989, 81 (3): 379-391
37 Ball MC, Wolfe J, Canny M, Hofmann M, Nicotra AB, Hughes D. Space and time dependence of temperature and freezing in evergreen leaves [J]. Funct Plant Biol, 2002, 29 (11): 1259-1272
38 Bowman WD, Conant RT. Shoot growth dynamics and photosynthetic response to increased nitrogen availability in the alpine willow Salix glauca [J]. Oecologia, 1994, 97 (1): 93-99
39 Diggle PK. Extreme preformation in alpine polygonum viviparum: an architectural and developmental analysis [J]. Am J Bot, 1997, 84 (2): 154-169
40 Weiner J. Allocation, plasticity and allometry in plants [J]. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst, 2004, 6 (4): 207-215
41 Lusk CH, Falster DS, Jara-Vergara CK, Jimenez-Castillo M, Saldana-Mendoza A. Ontogenetic variation in light requirements of juvenile rainforest evergreens [J]. Funct Ecol, 2008, 22 (3): 454-459


Last Update: 2015-01-04