Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2013, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (2): 164-172.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2013.00017

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Water integration between mother and daughter ramet of Alhagi sparsifolia

LUO Wei-Cheng1,2,3,4,5, ZENG Fan-Jiang1,2,3,4,*(), LIU Bo1,2,3,4,5, SONG Cong1,2,3,4,5, PENG Shou-Lan1,2,3,4,5, Stefan K. ARNDT6   

  1. 1Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academic of Sciences, ürümqi 830011, China
    2Cele National Field Science Observation and Research Station of Desert Grassland Ecosystem, Cele, Xinjiang 848300, China
    3Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, ürümqi 830011, China
    4State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, ürümqi 830011, China
    5Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    6Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne, Creswick, VIC 3363, Australia
  • Received:2012-09-24 Accepted:2012-12-20 Online:2013-02-20 Published:2013-01-31
  • Contact: ZENG Fan-Jiang

Abstract:

Aims Alhagi sparsifolia is one of the dominant perennial species in the extreme drought region of Taklamakan Desert in northwestern China. Alhagi sparsifolia usually cannot reproduce sexually in natural, non-irrigated environments, where the only way to maintain and extend its populations is to reproduce clonally. In the natural habitats, therefore, clonality and the resultant clonal traits such as clonal integration for water (i.e., water integration) may have played great roles in maintaining populations of A. sparsifolia. So far, however, few studies have been conducted to investigate the water integration pattern between mother and daughter ramets of A. sparsifolia.
Methods We carried out an experiment with four treatments involving the spacer (i.e., the interconnection between adjacent ramets) between mother and daughter ramets. The spacer was: (1) connected, (2) severed, (3) connected and the mother ramet was supplied with 200 L additional water, and (4) severed and the mother ramet was supplied with 200 L additional water. After 15 days of spacer severance, we measured water potential of the mother and daughter ramets and their leaf morphological and growth parameters. In the water supplement treatment, we measured water potential of the mother and daughter ramets immediately before and 24 h after the water supplement. We also measured soil water content at 0 cm (soil surface) to 200 cm soil depth of the mother and daughter ramets before and after water supplement.
Important findings The difference of predawn water potential for both mother and daughter ramets was not significant (p > 0.05) between the spacer connected and spacer severed group, but the midday water potential of both mother and daughter ramets increased significantly after spacer severance (p < 0.01). After water supplement to the mothers, water potential of mothers was significantly increased in both the spacer severance and connection treatments. Water potential of daughter ramets in spacer connection treatment also increased significantly (p < 0.01), but that in spacer severance treatment did not. Leaf relative water content and the increase of height, crown width, branch number and basal diameter of the daughter ramets in spacer connection treatment were significantly higher than that in the spacer severance treatment (p < 0.01). We concluded that water integration exists between mother and daughter ramets of A. sparsifolia and the mother can transfer water to daughter ramets by spacer. This result is important for vegetation restoration and utilization of water resources of this area.

Key words: Alhagi sparsifolia, clonal plant, water integration, water potential