Shade acclimation in the forage grass Festuca Pallescens: biomass allocation and foliage orientation
Authors: Fernández, María; Gyenge, Javier; Schlichter, Tomás
Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 60, Number 2, February 2004 , pp. 159-166(8)
Abstract:Plants can acclimate to shade through different processes. In particular, they can modify their biomass allocation and the architecture in order to increase light interception. The objective of this study was to evaluate the shade acclimation capacity of Festuca Pallescens (St. Ives) Parodi, as part of research concerning the use of this species in silvopastoral systems in Patagonia, Argentina. Biomass allocation was estimated from the leaf and root dry weights of plants growing in an open pasture and forested plots. Crown architecture of plants growing in the open and in two shade treatments was studied dividing each plant in three concentric cylinders, within which leaf angles and leaf area were measured. Light interception of plants in each treatment was estimated from the projected leaf areas and the relative amount of radiation reaching each location. Biomass allocation changed significantly in plants growing under shade conditions, increasing the proportion of leaves relative to the roots (Leaf Mass Fraction = 0.29 (SD: 0.12) and 0.40 (SD: 0.09) in plants in the open and under shade, respectively). Also, mean leaf inclination angles changed in plants growing under shade conditions, allowing an increase in light interception of approximately 35% compared to plants with the crown architecture typical of the open treatment. Previous studies have shown that F. pallescens does not change its photosynthetic response to light under shade conditions. Therefore, we conclude that the reported changes in biomass allocation and crown architecture, in addition to the increment in specific leaf area explain the relatively high shade tolerance of this species.
Document Type: Research Article
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Publication date: 2004-02-01