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Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Apr;29(4):647-52.

Growth and ethylene evolution by shade and sun ecotypes of Stellaria longipes in response to varied light quality and irradiance.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Plants growing in the shade receive both low light irradiance and light enriched in far red (FR) (i.e., light with a low red (R) to FR ratio). In an attempt to uncouple the R/FR ratio effects from light irradiance effects, we utilized Stellaria longipes because this species has two distinct natural population ecotypes, alpine (dwarf) and prairie (tall). The alpine population occupies the open, sun habitat. By contrast, the prairie population grows in the shade of other plants. Both 'sun' and 'shade' ecotypes responded with increased stem elongation responses under low irradiance, relative to growth under 'normal' irradiance, and this increased growth was proportionally similar. However, only the shade ecotype had increased shoot elongation in response to a low R/FR ratio. By contrast, the sun ecotype showed increased stem elongation in response to increasing R/FR ratio. Varying the R/FR ratios had no significant effect on ethylene evolution in either sun or shade ecotype. Under low irradiance, only the sun ecotype showed a significantly changed (decreased) ethylene evolution. We conclude that R/FR ratio and irradiance both regulate growth, and that irradiance can also influence ethylene evolution of the sun ecotype. By contrast, R/FR ratio and irradiance, while having profound influences on growth of the shade ecotype, do not appear to regulate these growth changes via effects on ethylene production.

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