University Of Tasmania
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Differences in biochemical, gas exchange and hydraulic response to water stress in desiccation tolerant and sensitive fronds of the fern Anemia caffrorum

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posted on 2023-05-21, 02:38 authored by Nadal, M, Timothy BrodribbTimothy Brodribb, Fernandez-Marin, B, Garcia-Plazaola, JI, Arzac, MI, Lopez-Pozo, M, Perera-Castro, AV, Gulias, J, Flexas, J, Farrant, JM
  • Desiccation tolerant plants can survive extreme water loss in their vegetative tissues. The fern Anemia caffrorum produces desiccation tolerant (DT) fronds in the dry season and desiccation sensitive (DS) fronds in the wet season, providing a unique opportunity to explore the physiological mechanisms associated with desiccation tolerance.
  • Anemia caffrorum plants with either DT or DS fronds were acclimated in growth chambers. Photosynthesis, frond structure and anatomy, water relations and minimum conductance to water vapour were measured under well-watered conditions. Photosynthesis, hydraulics, frond pigments, antioxidants and abscisic acid contents were monitored under water deficit.
  • A comparison between DT and DS fronds under well-watered conditions showed that the former presented higher leaf mass per area, minimum conductance, tissue elasticity and lower CO2 assimilation. Water deficit resulted in a similar induction of abscisic acid in both frond types, but DT fronds maintained higher stomatal conductance and upregulated more prominently lipophilic antioxidants.
  • The seasonal alternation in production of DT and DS fronds in A. caffrorum represents a mechanism by which carbon gain can be maximized during the rainy season, and a greater investment in protective mechanisms occurs during the hot dry season, enabling the exploitation of episodic water availability.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

New Phytologist










School of Natural Sciences


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 The Authors. New Phytologist Copyright 2021 New Phytologist Foundation. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.) License, ( which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts); Native forests