Background and Aims
For heterophyllous amphibious plants that experience fluctuating water levels, it is critical to control leaf development precisely in response to environmental cues that can serve as a quantitative index of water depth. Light quality can serve as such a cue because the ratio of red light relative to far-red light (R/FR) increases and blue-light intensity decreases with increasing water depth. Growth experiments were conducted to examine how R/FR and blue-light intensity alter leaf morphology of a heterophyllous amphibious plant, Rotala hippuris.
Using combinations of far red (730 nm), red (660 nm) and blue (470 nm) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), growth experiments were used to quantitatively evaluate the effects of the R/FR ratio and blue-light intensity on leaf morphology.
Under the natural light regime in an outside growth garden, R. hippuris produced distinct leaves under submerged and aerial conditions. R/FR and blue-light intensity were found to markedly affect heterophyllous leaf formation. Higher and lower R/FR caused leaf characters more typical of submerged and aerial leaves, respectively, in both aerial and submerged conditions, in accordance with natural distribution of leaf types and light under water. High blue light caused a shift of trait values toward those of typical aerial leaves, and the response was most prominent under conditions of R/FR that were expected near the water surface.
R/FR and blue-light intensity provides quantitative cues for R. hippuris to detect water depth and determine the developmental fates of leaves, especially near the water surface. The utilization of these quantitative cues is expected to be important in habitats where plants experience water-level fluctuation.