Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/85529
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Type: Journal article
Title: Seagrass proliferation precedes mortality during hypo-salinity events: a stress-induced morphometric response
Author: Collier, C.
Villacorta-Rath, C.
van Dijk, J.
Takahashi, M.
Waycott, M.
Citation: PLoS One, 2014; 9(4):1-11
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1932-6203
1932-6203
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Catherine J. Collier, Cecilia Villacorta-Rath, Kor-jent van Dijk, Miwa Takahashi, Michelle Waycott
Abstract: Halophytes, such as seagrasses, predominantly form habitats in coastal and estuarine areas. These habitats can be seasonally exposed to hypo-salinity events during watershed runoff exposing them to dramatic salinity shifts and osmotic shock. The manifestation of this osmotic shock on seagrass morphology and phenology was tested in three Indo-Pacific seagrass species, Halophila ovalis, Halodule uninervis and Zostera muelleri, to hypo-salinity ranging from 3 to 36 PSU at 3 PSU increments for 10 weeks. All three species had broad salinity tolerance but demonstrated a moderate hypo-salinity stress response – analogous to a stress induced morphometric response (SIMR). Shoot proliferation occurred at salinities <30 PSU, with the largest increases, up to 400% increase in shoot density, occurring at the sub-lethal salinities <15 PSU, with the specific salinity associated with peak shoot density being variable among species. Resources were not diverted away from leaf growth or shoot development to support the new shoot production. However, at sub-lethal salinities where shoots proliferated, flowering was severely reduced for H. ovalis, the only species to flower during this experiment, demonstrating a diversion of resources away from sexual reproduction to support the investment in new shoots. This SIMR response preceded mortality, which occurred at 3 PSU for H. ovalis and 6 PSU for H. uninervis, while complete mortality was not reached for Z. muelleri. This is the first study to identify a SIMR in seagrasses, being detectable due to the fine resolution of salinity treatments tested. The detection of SIMR demonstrates the need for caution in interpreting in-situ changes in shoot density as shoot proliferation could be interpreted as a healthy or positive plant response to environmental conditions, when in fact it could signal pre-mortality stress.
Keywords: Plant Leaves; Plant Shoots; Ecosystem; Reproduction; Phenotype; Osmotic Pressure; Time Factors; Salinity; Salt-Tolerant Plants
Rights: © 2014 Collier et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
RMID: 0020137728
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094014
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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