Phenotypic plasticity of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) stomatal features under water deficit assessed in provenance trial
von Wuehlisch, Georg
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The results of research into leaf stomatal variability of five European beech provenances originating from Austria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Germany, Romania and Serbia are presented in this paper. Aim of the study was to investigate how stomatal traits of provenances originating from different environments change in response to drought stress and to assess the phenotypic plasticity of the stomatal features investigated. The study was conducted during two different years, characterized by contrasting weather conditions (2010 and 2011). Two-way ANOVA revealed that provenances differ significantly in terms of stomatal density (SD), width of stomatal aperture (W-b), potential conductance index (PCI) and relative stomatal pore surface (RSPS), during both seasons. In a dry year (2011) all provenances significantly increased stomatal density by between 16.1\% (Hasbruch - DE) and 21.9\% (Cer - SRB). Guard cell length (LA) was not statistically different among provenances in either year (2010 and 2011), even though LA decreased in the dry year (2011) in all provenances. Reaction norms were steep in most of the parameters suggesting the possibility of a plastic response of provenances toward changes in soil water regime, influenced by the prevailing weather each year. Phenotypic plasticity indices were the highest in regards of SD, PCI and RSPS, indicating that these traits would be good candidates for improvement in breeding programs aimed at selection of drought resistant.