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Phenotypic plasticity of Artemisia ordosica seedlings in response to different levels of calcium carbonate in soil
- Xue, Pingping, Zhao, Xuelai, Gao, Yubao, He, Xingdong
- Journal of Arid Land 2019 v.11 no.1 pp. 58-65
- Artemisia, arid lands, biomass, calcium carbonate, evolution, interspecific competition, phenotypic plasticity, planning, plant height, seedlings, semiarid zones, soil, vegetation, China
- Plant phenotypic plasticity is a common feature that is crucial for explaining interspecific competition, dynamics and biological evolution of plant communities. In this study, we tested the effects of soil CaCO₃ (calcium carbonate) on the phenotypic plasticity of a psammophyte, Artemisia ordosica, an important plant species on sandy lands in arid and semi-arid areas of China, by performing pot experiments under different CaCO₃ contents with a two-factor randomized block design and two orthogonal designs. We analyzed the growth responses (including plant height, root length, shoot-leaf biomass and root biomass) of A. ordosica seedlings to different soil CaCO₃ contents. The results revealed that, with a greater soil CaCO₃ content, A. ordosica seedlings gradually grew more slowly, with their relative growth rates of plant height, root length, shoot-leaf biomass and root biomass all decreasing significantly. Root N/P ratios showed significant negative correlations with the relative growth rates of plant height, shoot-leaf biomass and root length of A. ordosica seedlings; however, the relative growth rate of root length increased significantly with the root P concentration increased, showing a positive correlation. These results demonstrate that soil CaCO₃ reduces the local P availability in soil, which produces a non-adaptive phenotypic plasticity to A. ordosica seedlings. This study should prove useful for planning and promoting the restoration of damaged/degraded vegetation in arid and semi-arid areas of China.