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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Intraspecific functional trait variation in response to drought

Besufekad Wolde, Diana Michael, Shivani Krishna

Ashoka University, Department of Biology, India


Climatic changes that are exacerbated due to anthropogenic pressures are known to interfere with the harmonic functioning of ecosystems. These interferences could be through the warming up of the atmosphere, melting of glaciers, and the degradation and fragmentation of natural terrestrial forested habitats. Given the high magnitude of disturbances these changes are causing, it is crucial to understand the ecological dynamics that are subjected to such climatic fluctuations. Reduced water availability manifested as periodic or prolonged drought has been put forth as one of the key effects of such fluctuations. In this study, we simulated drought conditions in a greenhouse experiment and examined the extent of variation in responses in Solanum lycopersicum. Furthermore, we divided plants’ life cycle into two key stages- pre-reproductive and reproductive, and investigated how plants respond to drought at different developmental stages. We also tested if there is any form of trade-off that is in play between plants' vegetative traits and reproductive traits during a prolonged drought. To achieve this, we measured and analysed five vegetative traits namely specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), height, number of leaves, and specific root length (SRL); and three reproductive traits: pollen count, the onset of flowering, and peak flowering time. The results showed that among the five vegetative traits height, number of leaves and SRL showed significant variation in response to treatments. In case of the reproductive traits- peak flowering time significantly varied between treatments. Individuals showed more intraspecific variation in their reproductive traits than vegetative ones. While we did not detect any substantial differences in vegetative investment in the flowering and non-flowering stages, we speculate that controlling for genetic differences will provide more valuable insights into such trade-offs.

Keywords: Drought, functional traits, Solanum lycopersicum

Contact Address: Besufekad Wolde, Ashoka University, Department of Biology, Ashoka University, NH 44, Rajiv Gandhi Education City, 131029 RAI INDUSTRIAL AREA, India, e-mail: besufekad.alem@gmail.com

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