Plant Diversity ›› 2020, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (03): 181-188.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2020.01.002

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Differences in leaf physiological and morphological traits between Camellia japonica and Camellia reticulata

Ji-Hua Wanga,c, Yan-Fei Caia,c, Shi-Feng Lia,c, Shi-Bao Zhangb   

  1. a Flower Research Institute of Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Kunming, China;
    b Key Laboratory for Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China;
    c National Engineering Research Center for Ornamental Horticulture, Kunming, China
  • Received:2019-09-30 Revised:2020-01-06 Online:2020-06-25 Published:2020-07-15
  • Contact: Ji-Hua Wang, Yan-Fei Cai, Shi-Feng Li, Shi-Bao Zhang
  • Supported by:
    This work is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, China (31670342, 31760229), the Scientific and Technological Leading Talent Project of Yunnan Province (2016HA005); project for Construction of International Flower Technology Innovation Center and Achievement Industrialization. Thanks to Dr. John Meadows from the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast for English editing.

Abstract: Plants of the genus Camellia are widely cultivated throughout the world as ornamentals because of their bright and large flowers. The widely cultivated varieties are mainly derived from the mutant lines and hybrid progenies of Camellia japonica Linn. and Camellia reticulata Lindl. While their geographical distributions and environmental adaptabilities are significantly different, no systematic comparison has been conducted between these two species. To investigate differences in how these plants have adapted to their environments, we measured photosynthesis and 20 leaf functional traits of C. japonica and C. reticulata grown under the same conditions. Compared with C. japonica, C. reticulata showed higher values for light saturation point, light-saturated photosynthetic rate, leaf dry mass per unit area and stomatal area, but lower values for apparent quantum efficiency, leaf size, stomatal density and leaf nitrogen content per unit mass. Stomatal area was positively correlated with light-saturated photosynthetic rate and light saturation point, but negatively correlated with stomatal density. The differences between C. reticulata and C. japonica were mainly reflected in their adaptations to light intensity and leaf morphological traits. C. reticulata is better adapted to high light intensity than C. japonica. This difference is related to the two species’ differing life forms. Thus, leaf morphological traits have played an important role in the light adaptation of C. reticulata and C. japonica, and might be first noticed and selected during the breeding process. These findings will contribute to the cultivation of camellia plants.

Key words: Camellia, Light adaptation, Leaf traits, Ornamental plant, Photosynthesis