Phenotypic plasticity of sun and shade ecotypes of Stellaria longipes in response to light quality signaling, gibberellins and auxin

Kurepin, L.V.; Pharis, R.P.; Neil Emery, R.J.; Reid, D.M.; Chinnappa, C.C.

Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (Paris) 94: 174-180

2015


ISSN/ISBN: 1873-2690
PMID: 26113156
DOI: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2015.06.013
Accession: 058545162

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Abstract
Stellaria longipes plant communities (ecotypes) occur in several environmentally distinct habitats along the eastern slopes of southern Alberta's Rocky Mountains. One ecotype occurs in a prairie habitat at ∼1000 m elevation where Stellaria plants grow in an environment in which the light is filtered by taller neighbouring vegetation, i.e. sunlight with a low red to far-red (R/FR) ratio. This ecotype exhibits a high degree of phenotypic plasticity by increasing stem elongation in response to the low R/FR ratio light signal. Another Stellaria ecotype occurs nearby at ∼2400 m elevation in a much cooler alpine habitat, one where plants rarely experience low R/FR ratio shade light. Stem elongation of plants is largely regulated by gibberellins (GAs) and auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). Shoots of the prairie ecotype plants show increased IAA levels under low R/FR ratio light and they also increase their stem growth in response to applied IAA. The alpine ecotype plants show neither response. Plants from both ecotypes produce high levels of growth-active GA1 under low R/FR ratio light, though they differ appreciably in their catabolism of GA1. The alpine ecotype plants exhibit very high levels of GA8, the inactive product of GA1 metabolism, under both normal and low R/FR ratio light. Alpine origin plants may de-activate GA1 by conversion to GA8 via a constitutively high level of expression of the GA2ox gene, thereby maintaining their dwarf phenotype and exhibiting a reduced phenotypic plasticity in terms of shoot elongation. In contrast, prairie plants exhibit a high degree of phenotypic plasticity, using low R/FR ratio light-mediated changes in GA and IAA concentrations to increase shoot elongation, thereby accessing direct sunlight to optimize photosynthesis. There thus appear to be complex adaptation strategies for the two ecotypes, ones which involve modifications in the homeostasis of endogenous hormones.