Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2018, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (2): 220-228.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0258

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Changes in hydraulic traits of nine vascular plants from different evolutionary lineages

ZHAO Le-Wen1,CHEN Zi-Yi1,ZOU Ying1,FU Zi-Zhao1,WU Gui-Lin2,3,LIU Xiao-Rong2,3,LUO Qi2,3,LIN Yi-Xue4,2,LI Xiong-Ju1,LIU Zhi-Tong 1,LIU Hui2,*()   

  1. 1 Guangdong Experimental High School, Guangzhou 510375, China

    2 Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China

    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

    4 Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering, Guangzhou 510225, China
  • Online:2018-02-20 Published:2018-04-16
  • Contact: Hui LIU
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.(31670411)


Aims As vascular plants evolve from ferns to gymnosperms and angiosperms, their physiological structures and functions are assumed more adaptable to arid environment. Whether the three plant groups from early to late evolved lineages have improved their water transport and use efficiency has been studied on the basis of the morphological structure of leaf veins and stomata.Moreover, the water transportation rate was directly measured in the angiosperms. Therefore, we measured structural and functional traits related to water relations in all three plant groups simultaneously, to test the hypothesis on the evolutionary process of plant hydraulics.

Methods We selected three species in each group grown in South China Botanical Garden, Guangzhou, China, including ferns (Dicranopteris pedata, Cyclosorus parasiticus and Blechnum orientale), gymnosperms (Podocarpus macrophyllus, Podocarpus nagi and Taxodium distichum) and angiosperms (Manglietia fordiana var. hainanensis, Sindora tonkinensis and Bauhinia purpurea).

Important findings Sapwood and leaf specific hydraulic conductivities (KS and KL, respectively), and leaf conductance (Kleaf) significantly increased from ferns, gymnosperms to angiosperms. However, no significant trends were found in transpiration rate (E) and intrinsic water use efficiency. Meanwhile, neither the size and density of stomata nor wood density showed significant difference among three plant groups. The hydraulic functional traits (KS, KL and Kleaf) had significantly positive correlations with each other, but had no relationships with the two measured structural traits. Phylogenetic independent contrasts analyses showed that the coordination between KS and Kleaf, and between KS and E were independent of the phylogeny. Based on the nine vascular species, this study demonstrated that water transport related traits are improved as vascular plants evolved, and the co-evolution between water transport and transpiration traits were identified. For further study, it is necessary to consolidate our data with investigations of more detailed water-transport structures in more species from different evolutionary lineages.

Key words: functional traits, adaptation, water transport, phylogenetic independent contrast, correlated evolution