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New Phytol. 2016 Apr;210(1):133-44. doi: 10.1111/nph.13758. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Selection during crop diversification involves correlated evolution of the circadian clock and ecophysiological traits in Brassica rapa.

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Department of Botany and Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA.
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, MO, 63166, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 03755, USA.
Department of Molecular Biology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA.


Crop selection often leads to dramatic morphological diversification, in which allocation to the harvestable component increases. Shifts in allocation are predicted to impact (as well as rely on) physiological traits; yet, little is known about the evolution of gas exchange and related anatomical features during crop diversification. In Brassica rapa, we tested for physiological differentiation among three crop morphotypes (leaf, turnip, and oilseed) and for correlated evolution of circadian, gas exchange, and phenological traits. We also examined internal and surficial leaf anatomical features and biochemical limits to photosynthesis. Crop types differed in gas exchange; oilseed varieties had higher net carbon assimilation and stomatal conductance relative to vegetable types. Phylogenetically independent contrasts indicated correlated evolution between circadian traits and both gas exchange and biomass accumulation; shifts to shorter circadian period (closer to 24 h) between phylogenetic nodes are associated with higher stomatal conductance, lower photosynthetic rate (when CO2 supply is factored out), and lower biomass accumulation. Crop type differences in gas exchange are also associated with stomatal density, epidermal thickness, numbers of palisade layers, and biochemical limits to photosynthesis. Brassica crop diversification involves correlated evolution of circadian and physiological traits, which is potentially relevant to understanding mechanistic targets for crop improvement.


Brassica rapa; Farquhar model; circadian rhythms; crop diversification; ecophysiological traits; leaf anatomy

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