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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01398

Spatial Patterns of Leaf Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Stoichiometry of Aquatic Macrophytes in the Arid Zone of Northwestern China

 Xusheng Gong1, Zhiyan Xu1, Wei Lu1, Yuqing Tian1, Yaheng Liu1, Zhengxiang Wang1, Can Dai1, Jinghui Zhao1* and  Zhongqiang Li1*
  • 1Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Green Transformation of Bio-Resources, Hubei Key Laboratory of Regional Development and Environmental Response, Faculty of Resources and Environment, College of Life Sciences, Hubei University, China

Ecological stoichiometry is a powerful indicator for understanding the adaptation of plants to environment. However, understanding of stoichiometric characteristics of leaf carbon (C%), nitrogen (N%) and phosphorus (P%) for aquatic macrophytes remains limited. In this study, 707 samples from 146 sites were collected to study the variations in leaf C%, N% and P%, and tried to explore how different environmental conditions affect leaf C, N and P stoichiometry. Results showed that the mean values of leaf C%, N%, P% and N:P ratios were 39.95%, 2.12%, 0.14% and 16.60 of macrophytes across the arid zone of northwestern China, respectively. And the mean values of leaf P% were lower than those from the Tibetan Plateau and eastern China, which maybe due to an adaptation strategy of the plants to the unique conditions in the arid zone in the long-term evolutionary process. The higher N:P ratios suggested that P was established as the limiting factor of the macrophytes communities in the arid zone of northwestern China. There were significant differences in leaf C%, N%, P% and their ratios among different life forms. Our results also showed strong relationships between leaf N% and N:P ratios and longitude, leaf N%, P% and N:P ratios and latitude, and leaf N% and P% and altitude, respectively. In addition, the results showed that pH can significantly influence leaf C%. Our results supported the temperature-plant physiology hypothesis owing to a negative relationship between leaf N% and P% of macrophytes and mean annual temperature in the arid zone of northwestern China. The different patterns of leaf stoichiometry between the arid zone of northwestern China and eastern China indicated that there were different physiological and ecological adaptability of macrophytes to environmental gradients in different climatic zones.

Keywords: Aquatic macrophytes, Arid zone, Ecological stoichiometry, environmental factors, Temperature-plant physiology hypothesis

Received: 16 Mar 2018; Accepted: 03 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Hiroko Kurokawa, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan

Reviewed by:

Hui Fu, Hunan Agricultural University, China
Yongjiu Cai, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology (CAS), China  

Copyright: © 2018 Gong, Xu, Lu, Tian, Liu, Wang, Dai, Zhao and Li. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Jinghui Zhao, Hubei University, Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Green Transformation of Bio-Resources, Hubei Key Laboratory of Regional Development and Environmental Response, Faculty of Resources and Environment, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan, 430062, China, zhaojh2004@hubu.edu.cn
Prof. Zhongqiang Li, Hubei University, Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Green Transformation of Bio-Resources, Hubei Key Laboratory of Regional Development and Environmental Response, Faculty of Resources and Environment, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan, 430062, China, lizhq@hubu.edu.cn