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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Into the range: a latitudinal gradient or a center-margins differentiation of ecological strategies in Arabidopsis thaliana?

Estarague, Aurelien; Vasseur, Francois; Sartori, Kevin; Bastias, Cristina C.; Cornet, Denis; Rouan, Lauriane; Beurier, Gregory; Exposito-Alonso, Moises; Herbette, Stephane; Bresson, Justine; Vile, Denis; Violle, Cyrille


Background and Aims Determining within-species large-scale variation in phenotypic traits is central to elucidate the drivers of species' ranges. Intraspecific comparisons offer the opportunity to understand how trade-offs and biogeographical history constrain adaptation to contrasted environmental conditions. Here we test whether functional traits, ecological strategies from the CSR scheme and phenotypic plasticity in response to abiotic stress vary along a latitudinal or a center- margins gradient within the native range of Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods We experimentally examined the phenotypic outcomes of plant adaptation at the center and margins of its geographic range using 30 accessions from southern, central and northern Europe. We characterized the variation of traits related to stress tolerance, resource use, colonization ability, CSR strategy scores, survival and fecundity in response to high temperature (34 degrees C) or frost (- 6 degrees C), combined with a water deficit treatment. Key Results We found evidence for both a latitudinal and a center-margins differentiation for the traits under scrutiny. Age at maturity, leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area and leaf nitrogen content varied along a latitudinal gradient. Northern accessions presented a greater survival to stress than central and southern accessions. Leaf area, C-scores, R-scores and fruit number followed a center-margins differentiation. Central accessions displayed a higher phenotypic plasticity than northern and southern accessions for most studied traits. Conclusions Traits related to an acquisitive/conservative resource-use trade-off followed a latitudinal gradient. Traits associated with a competition/colonization trade-off differentiated along the historic colonization of the distribution range and then followed a center-margins differentiation. Our findings pinpoint the need to consider the joint effect of evolutionary history and environmental factors when examining phenotypic variation across the distribution range of a species.


phenotypic plasticity; CSR strategies; performance; water stress; functional trait; plant trait-based ecology; intraspecific variation; stress resistance-fecundity trade-off

Published in

Annals of Botany
2022, Volume: 129, number: 3, pages: 343-356

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