Changes in some leaf characteristics: leaf mass area (LMA), content of photosynthetic pigments and nitrogen in the leaves, leaf mass ratio (LMR) and leaf area ratio (LAR) were investigated in steppe plants of the Volga land along the gradient of aridity. When drought stress became stronger, the content of chlorophylls in the leaves, LMR and LAR decreased, whereas LMA and the proportion of carotenoids in the leaves rose. In the North to South direction, the content of pigments and nitrogen per unit whole plant weight considerably decreased (4 and 2 times, respectively). The relationship between leaf indices (chlorophyll and nitrogen contents and LMA) differed along this gradient. It was concluded that adaptation of steppe plants to drought stress generally depended on predominant development of heterotrophic tissues in the leaf and the whole plant. During aridization, the stress-tolerant species became more numerous.
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology – Springer Journals
Published: May 15, 2008
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