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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 26;8(11):e81456. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081456. eCollection 2013.

The invasive wetland plant Alternanthera philoxeroides shows a higher tolerance to waterlogging than its native Congener Alternanthera sessilis.

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  • 1School of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China.

Abstract

Plant invasion is one of the major threats to natural ecosystems. Phenotypic plasticity is considered to be important for promoting plant invasiveness. High tolerance of stress can also increase survival of invasive plants in adverse habitats. Limited growth and conservation of carbohydrate are considered to increase tolerance of flooding in plants. However, few studies have examined whether invasive species shows a higher phenotypic plasticity in response to waterlogging or a higher tolerance of waterlogging (lower plasticity) than native species. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to compare the growth and morphological and physiological responses to waterlogging of the invasive, clonal, wetland species Alternanthera philoxeroides with those of its co-occurring, native, congeneric, clonal species Alternanthera sessilis. Plants of A. philoxeroides and A. sessilis were subjected to three treatments (control, 0 and 60 cm waterlogging). Both A. philoxeroides and A. sessilis survived all treatments. Overall growth was lower in A. philoxeroides than in A. sessilis, but waterlogging negatively affected the growth of A. philoxeroides less strongly than that of A. sessilis. Alternanthera philoxeroides thus showed less sensitivity of growth traits (lower plasticity) and higher waterlogging tolerance. Moreover, the photosynthetic capacity of A. philoxeroides was higher than that of A. sessilis during waterlogging. Alternanthera philoxeroides also had higher total non-structural and non-soluble carbohydrate concentrations than A. sessilis at the end of treatments. Our results suggest that higher tolerance to waterlogging and higher photosynthetic capacity may partly explain the invasion success of A. philoxeroides in wetlands.

PMID:
24303048
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3841148
Free PMC Article
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