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Am J Bot. 2002 Aug;89(8):1189-96. doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.8.1189.

Root starch storage and allocation patterns in seeder and resprouter seedlings of two Cape Erica (Ericaceae) species.

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Unitat de Biologia Vegetal, Dept. de Ciències Ambientals, Universitat de Girona, Campus de Montilivi, 17071-Girona, Spain;


Post-fire sprouting of dormant buds in resprouter plants is facilitated by stored carbohydrate reserves, with starch being the critical reserve. Starch is mainly stored in xylem parenchyma ray tissue of woody underground organs, such as burls, lignotubers, and roots. We carried out a comparative analysis of the pattern of starch storage and the proportion of parenchymatic ray tissue in the upper root or cotyledonary region of seedlings from seeder and resprouter forms within two Cape Erica (Ericaceae) species: E. coccinea L. and E. calycina L., which were raised in the greenhouse under controlled irrigation. We also explored the root-to-shoot allocation patterns of seeder and resprouter seedlings in these two species. Resprouter seedlings of both species showed higher relative amounts of upper-root starch and upper-root storage tissue as well as a higher root-to-shoot allocation than their seeder counterparts. Pronounced swelling of the upper root region suggests ontogenetic development of a lignotuber in the resprouter forms of the two Erica species. The distinct allocation of starch in roots seems to be genetically determined and would account for the apparent differences in the root-to-shoot allocation patterns between both regeneration forms from the early seedling stage.

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