Sex differences and plasticity in dehydration tolerance

Plants have a multitude of strategies for drought survival. Dehydration tolerance (DhT), is one such strategy that provides an opportunity to identify key genes, physiological traits, and ecological factors that could be used to reduce crop and species loss from drought. Here, Marks et al. demonstrated that Marchantia inflexa, a tropical liverwort, has moderate DhT.

Schematic of the dehydration assay set-up.
Schematic of the dehydration assay set-up. Each box contained one tissue sample from each of the 18 genetic lines. Each sample was placed in a Petri dish along with a single filter paper disk and 200 μL of distilled water. The dehydration chamber was placed in a growth chamber with a constant temperature of 13 °C and a 12-h light/12-h dark cycle. Image by Marks et al. (2016)

Interestingly, M. inflexa has the capacity to acclimate to different environmental moisture levels, suggesting that DhT is plastic in this species. The authors demonstrate that males are less DhT than females, which may explain the female biased sex ratios observed in this and many bryophyte species.

Further reading

Rose A. Marks, James F. Burton, D. Nicholas McLetchie, 2016, 'Sex differences and plasticity in dehydration tolerance: insight from a tropical liverwort', Annals of Botany, vol. 118, no. 2, pp. 347-356