An assessment of morphological and physiological traits that correlate with faster growth rate and high biomass production in Acacia tortilis (Forsk.) Hayne seedlings

Eliud K. Kireger, Simon K. Rop


Presently, there are no procedures for selecting superior genotypes at seedling stage. We do not know which morphological or physiological characteristics can be used to predict superior growth in trees. Field testing of genotypes requires a substantial amount of time and money before a genotype shows significant promise in the field. For this reason, morphological and physiological parameters that correlate with growth rate were sought as early indicators of field performance. Six seed provenances of Acacia tortilis (Forsk.) Hayne collected from areas of varying aridity where compared in biomass productivity and gas exchange traits. After 3.5 months of growth, biomass ranged from 1-2 g. Significant provenance variation was observed in total biomass productivity, root dry weight, leaf area, net photosynthetic rates per unit leaf area, stomatal conductance (P<0.001) and leaf transpiration rate (P<0.05). More xeric provenances exhibited lower biomass productivity compared to mesic ones. They also showed lower photosynthetic rates, stomatal conductance’s and low photosynthetic capacity. Larger leaf areas, high stomatal conductances and photosynthetic rates appeared to be positively correlated with total biomass productivity since faster growing provenances had a greater leaf area, higher stomatal conductance and photosynthetic rates. Taken together, the results suggest that differences in leaf area, stomatal conductance and photosynthetic rates (photosynthetic capacity) among provenances may be responsible for the variation in biomass productivity in Acacia tortilis provenances. The probable premise and sequence of physiological events responsible for the variability depends on photosynthetic rate, total leaf area and leaf longevity.

Keywords: Acacia tortilis, morphological traits, physiological traits, growth rate, biomass production, stomatal conductance, photosynthetic rate

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ISSN (Paper)2224-7181 ISSN (Online)2225-062X

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