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Contrasting leaf thickness and saturated water content explain wide-ranging air/water fractions, nutrient contents, and water-use efficiency among arid succulents
  • Byron Lamont,
  • Heather C. Lamont
Byron Lamont
Curtin University School of Molecular and Life Sciences

Corresponding Author:b.lamont@curtin.edu.au

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Heather C. Lamont
Curtin University School of Molecular and Life Sciences
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Eight species in the Namib Desert, South Africa were assessed for their leaf area ( A), thickness ( z), saturated ( Q) and dry mass, relative volume of air ( F a), water and dry mass, intrinsic water-use efficiency (based on δ 13C), and N, P and cation (Na+K) contents. As water-storage capacity is a function of Q v and z, this means Q/ A (= Q vz) is an ideal index of succulence compared with specific-leaf-area and other indices that highlight mass rather than volume. Specific gravity ( ρ l) has a different relationship with the F a of sclero-mesophylls: rising ρ l infers decreasing air content is replaced by water rather than dry matter. The trend among succulent species, including Argentinian/Spanish added to our study, was Q/ A exceeding 1 mg water/mm 2 whose overall slope was ten times that for co-occurring sclerophyll-mesophyll species, and shows the futility of seeking a universal relationship among plants regarding their water-storing properties. (Na+K), N and P concentrations varied on a dry-matter, but not water-volume, basis. W i relationships were essentially functions of variations in z and increased metabolic efficiency. We conclude that z and Q v are keys to the special physiological properties of succulent leaves. Adding succulents would force many current monotonic relationships to dichotomize.
29 Nov 2022Submitted to Plant, Cell & Environment
29 Nov 2022Assigned to Editor
29 Nov 2022Submission Checks Completed
03 Dec 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Dec 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned