, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 1177–1187 | Cite as

Relationship between photosynthetic rate, water use and leaf structure in desert annual and perennial forbs differing in their growth

  • L. Gonzalez-Paleo
  • D.A. Ravetta
Original paper


Specific leaf area (SLA) is a key trait to screen plants for ecological performance and productivity; however, the relationship between SLA and photosynthesis is not always up-scalable to growth when comparing multiple species with different life cycles. We explored leaf anatomy in annual and perennial species of Physaria, and related it to photosynthesis and water loss. The annual Physaria gracilis had higher SLA, thinner leaves, and lower investment in protective tissues, than perennial P. mendocina. Physaria angustifolia (annual), and P. pinetorum (perennial) showed intermediate values. Both perennials had a thicker palisade and high photosynthesis, relative to annuals. The larger leaf veins of perennials should allow high water availability to the mesophyll. The thicker palisade should determine high resistance to water flow and help explain their high water-use efficiency. These leaf functions reflect the construction of long-lived leaves that efficiently use resources under environmental limitations of arid environments.

Additional key words

leaf anatomy Physaria relative growth rate specific leaf area total biomass xylem anatomy 



transpiration rate


photosynthetic rate per unit leaf area


photosynthetic rate per unit leaf mass


relative growth rate


specific leaf area


water-use efficiency


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museo Egidio Feruglio, CONICET. Fontana 140Trelew, ChubutArgentina

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