Main content area

Water relations determine short time leaf growth patterns in the mangrove Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.

Hilty, Jonas, Pook, Chris, Leuzinger, Sebastian
Plant, cell and environment 2019 v.42 no.2 pp. 527-535
Avicennia marina, carbon dioxide fixation, computer software, leaf area, leaf development, leaves, shrinkage, trees, turgor
High‐resolution leaf growth is rarely studied despite its importance as a metric for plant performance and resource use efficiency. This is in part due to methodological challenges. Here, we present a method for in situ leaf growth measurements in a natural environment. We measured instantaneous leaf growth on a mature Avicennia marina subsp. australasica tree over several weeks. We measured leaf expansion by taking time‐lapse images and analysing them using marker tracking software. A custom‐made instrument was designed to enable long‐term field studies. We detected a distinct diel growth pattern with leaf area shrinkage in the morning and leaf expansion in the afternoon and at night. On average, the observed daily shrinkage was 37% of the net growth. Most of the net growth occurred at night. Diel leaf area shrinkage and recovery continued after growth cessation. The amount of daily growth was negatively correlated with shrinkage, and instantaneous leaf growth and shrinkage were correlated with changes in leaf turgor. We conclude that, at least in this tree species, instantaneous leaf growth patterns are very strongly linked to, and most likely driven by, leaf water relations, suggesting decoupling of short‐term growth patterns from carbon assimilation.