Possible roles for ethylene and gibberellin in the phenotypic plasticity of an alpine population of Stellaria longipes

Kurepin, L.V.; Mancell, L.; Reid, D.M.; Pharis, R.P.; Chinnappa, C.C.

Canadian Journal of Botany 84(7): 1101-1109


ISSN/ISBN: 0008-4026
DOI: 10.1139/b06-090
Accession: 012811421

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Four phenotypically different genotypes from an alpine population of Stellaria longipes Goldie s.l. (Caryophyllaceae) were collected from neighbouring sites at the top of the Plateau Mountain in southeastern Alberta, Canada, to examine a possible hormonal basis for their differences in stem length, leaf size, and flowering characteristics. All four genotypes had a dwarf shoot phenotype, compared with the low-elevation ecotype. Among the four genotypes, PMI-D was the tallest and had the largest leaves and flowers as well as more flowers per plant. PMI-D also maintained the flowering state, upon repropagation, without low temperature, short-day vernalization. Under controlled long-day warm conditions, the PMI-D genotype had a higher rate of ethylene evolution, but contained levels of endogenous gibberellin A1 that were similar to the other three (smaller) alpine genotypes. PMI-D was more sensitive to exogenously applied ethylene and growth-active gibberellins than other alpine genotypes. In contrast, the other three genotypes were smaller, had fewer (and smaller) flowers, and exhibited low ethylene evolution and a reduced sensitivity to applied ethylene and growth-active gibberellins. Speculatively, this behaviour may indicate an adaptation within this unique population of "dwarf" phenotypes that involves enhanced sensitivity to endogenous ethylene and gibberellins.