Fertilisation residues alter leaf scleromorphy in an evergreen savannah shrub (Maprounea brasiliensis, Euphorbiaceae)
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In the present study, we examined how residues of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) fertilisers affect leaf anatomical traits in Maprounea brasiliensis (Euphorbiaceae), a typical and dominant cerrado (Brazilian savannah) species adapted to dystrophic soils. We predicted that fertiliser residues would alter qualitative and quantitative aspects of M. brasiliensis leaves and would decrease their scleromorphy. Leaves were sampled from plants that were growing in soils previously fertilised with N, P and Ca and in plants that were growing in soils without fertiliser residues. We measured the thickness of the cuticle, the epidermis of adaxial and abaxial surfaces, thickness of palisade parenchyma and spongy parenchyma, total thickness of the leaf, total area of the midrib and leaf mass per area (LMA). We found that plants under fertiliser residues produced fewer scleromorphic leaves with low LMA, thinner cuticle and epidermis and thicker palisade and spongy parenchyma. They also showed a decrease in the size and area occupied by the leaf midvein. However, plants under fertiliser residues produced similar leaf thickness as did the plants in the control group. Our results showed that residual effects of fertilisation changed structural patterns of a typical species of cerrado. Thus, further studies about fertilisation effects on leaf traits are needed because larger areas of the central cerrado are being occupied for agricultural production. © 2013 CSIRO.