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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 61(7)

The carbon and nitrogen cost associated with the growth, reproductive and dormant phases of two South African semi-arid geophytic species of Gethyllis (Amaryllidaceae)

Christiaan Daniels A E , Wilfred Mabusela B , Jeanine Marnewick C and Alexander Valentine D

A Department of Horticultural Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, PO Box 1906, Bellville 7535, South Africa.
B South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa.
C Oxidative Stress Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, PO Box 1906, Bellville 7535, South Africa.
D Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
E Corresponding author. Email: danielsc@cput.ac.za

Australian Journal of Botany 61(7) 528-537 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT13191
Submitted: 26 July 2013  Accepted: 24 October 2013   Published: 11 February 2014

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Gethyllis multifolia L.Bolus and G. villosa Thunb. (Family: Amaryllidaceae) are deciduous and bulbous geophytes that occur in the succulent Karoo biome of South Africa. Both species occupy the same natural habitat, but G. multifolia is threatened and G. villosa not. Both G. multifolia and G. villosa require seasonal bulb reserves for initial vegetative and reproductive growth. In spite of G. villosa having smaller bulbs than G. multifolia, both species produce similar flower sizes and weights. The aim of the present study was to determine the carbon and nitrogen costs of vegetative and reproductive growth during the phases of growth, senescence, reproduction and dormancy of these bulbous species. The rates, costs and efficiencies of biomass production during various growth phases of the two species were determined in a comparative experiment. The results show that in spite of a significantly smaller bulb, G. villosa produced more leaves per unit bulb mass and invested more carbon and nitrogen resources into the bulbs during senescence. G. villosa also had a higher flower production, relative to bulb weight, than did G. multifolia. These physiological responses suggest that G. villosa may be more efficient at carbon and nitrogen resource utilisation.


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