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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01360

All for one: the role of colony morphology in bryophyte desiccation tolerance

 Ricardo Cruz de Carvalho1, 2*, António Maurício3, Manuel F. Pereira3,  Jorge Marques da Silva4 and  Cristina Branquinho1
  • 1Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental changes, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2Center for Marine and Environmental Sciences (MARE), Portugal
  • 3Association of Instituto Superior Técnico for Research and Development (IST-ID), Portugal
  • 4Institute of Biosystems and Integrative Sciences (BioISI), Portugal

In the last decade, several works showed that even bryophytes from aquatic environments, if slowly dehydrated, can cope with desiccation in a response like the one from desert bryophytes. This led to the hypothesis that, if bryophytes from contrasting habitats can have similar responses, desiccation tolerance (DT) is partially inductive and not only constitutive as previously proposed and, therefore, colony morphology might be the key trait responsible for controlling dehydration rate essential for DT induction. Morphology and life form may be determinant traits in the adaptation of bryophytes to habitats with different water availabilities and corresponding predicted levels in the DT inducibility spectrum. Bryophytes from habitats with different water availabilities were dried as individual shoots and as a colony. The bryophyte Fontinalis antipyretica is fully aquatic presenting a streamer life form, while the three terrestrial species present turf life form with different sizes and degrees of space between individuals in the colony. Two species were collected under trees with moist soil presenting short turf (Tortella tortuosa) and long turf (Campylopus pyriformis) life forms. Another species was completely exposed to sun light with no surrounding trees and a tall turf life form (Pleurochaete squarrosa). We used chlorophyll a fluorescence parameter Fv/Fm (maximum potential quantum efficiency of Photosystem II) as a proxy to photosynthetic fitness throughout the contrasting dehydration rates (fast and slow). These bryophytes with different life forms were submitted to an X-ray computed microtomography (μ-XCT) to assess the three-dimensional inner structure and visualize locations for water storage. Shoots dried slow or fast according to the dehydration they were exposed to, as expected, but they presented similar dehydration rates across different species. However, the aquatic moss F. antipyretica, was unable to recover from fast drying, and after 24 hours the recovery following slow drying was lower than the other species. The other three species presented full recovery after 24 hours, either at the individual or colony level, and either from slow or fast drying. The only exception was the colonies of Campylopus pyriformis following fast drying that presented a slightly lower recovery, probably due to a looser colony structure.

Keywords: Bryophyte, morphology, MicroXCT, Desiccation, Water retention

Received: 31 May 2019; Accepted: 03 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Cruz de Carvalho, Maurício, Pereira, Marques da Silva and Branquinho. 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: Dr. Ricardo Cruz de Carvalho, Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental changes, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, 1749-016, Portugal, rfcruz@fc.ul.pt