|Plant Physiology (Biology 327) - Dr. Stephen G. Saupe; College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University; Biology Department; Collegeville, MN 56321; (320) 363 - 2782; (320) 363 - 3202, fax; email@example.com|
Ecophysiological Analysis of Leaf Shape
Objectives: Upon the completion of this lab you should be able to:
to describe factors that influence leaf shape
measure leaf area using a simple weighing technique
use metric measurements
plot a graph
do simple statistical analyses
PreLab: Complete the exercises given in the Prelab Assignment.
When admiring the fantastic diversity of leaf shapes it is sometimes easy to forget that these are the products of evolution (trends in leaf evolution). The leaves of each species are adapted for their unique environment. Further, individuals in a species can show subtle changes in leaf shape that will help improve their survival value. The purpose of this lab exercise is to make some predictions concerning trends in the evolution of leaf shape, which are ultimately determined by the physiology of the plant.
First, let’s review a little terminology. A leaf, which is the
primary photosynthetic organ, is comprised of three parts – the blade,
the stalk (petiole), and stipules which are a pair
appendages at the base of the leaf. Depending on the species, one or more of
these parts may be absent in a given species. The margin of some leaves is
entire (smooth edge) while others are lobed (indented)
or serrate (toothed). The area between the lobes of a leaf is
called a sinus. A leaf with very deep and fine lobes that make
the leaf almost appear to be compound is called dissected. In
some leaves, which are termed compound, the blade is divided into
sections called leaflets. In contrast, simple leaves are
undivided and have only a single blade. It’s sometimes challenging to
distinguish between a leaf and a leaflet but a sure-fire way is to look for a
bud, which is an embryonic shoot. Only leaves have a bud at the base.
The boundary layer is a region of relatively still, non-moving air that is directly adjacent to the surface of any structure. In order for gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor to enter or exit a leaf they must pass through the boundary layer that acts something like a moat around a castle. To get into a castle we can swim across the moat, but it will surely slow us down. If the moat isn’t continuous or irregularly shaped, we will have an easier time hopping and weaving our way into the castle. Similarly, the thicker the layer, the more slowly the rate of carbon dioxide uptake or water loss. One reason for this is that the air in the boundary layer is usually more humid than surrounding air because water lost from the leaf temporarily gets trapped in the boundary layer reducing the rate of additional water loss. In a similar fashion, the boundary layer can retard carbon dioxide uptake into the leaf. In still conditions, the boundary layer increases in thickness and reduce water loss and restrict carbon dioxide uptake while a breeze will blow away the layer, much like draining the moat, and increase water loss and carbon dioxide uptake.
Since air tends to move more
smoothly over a larger surface than a smaller one, the boundary layer tends to
be thicker and more intact in larger leaves. Thus, one advantage of dividing leaves in numerous sections is that it helps
to increase the ability of the leaf to absorb carbon dioxide for
photosynthesis by decreasing the size of the boundary layer that
surrounds the leaf. To break up the boundary layer, plants divide their leaves
into smaller sections (compound & dissected) which prevents the formation of a continuous layer and
makes it easier to remove in a breeze.
On any given individual, leaves typically show modifications to the amount of
sunlight to which they are exposed. These leaves are called sun and shade
leaves. Compared to shade leaves, sun leaves typically are thicker, have a
smaller surface area, have a greater specific leaf area (cm g-1), a
thicker cuticle, more chlorophyll per unit area, and less internal air space.
Ultimately, leaf shape is a
response and tradeoff to light, water availability and other factors. In
this lab we will explore some of the factors that influence the shape of leave of species that grow in deciduous woods
such as those at St. John’s and St. Ben’s. We will especially focus on
differences in leaf shape between the trees and herbs in the forest and also
between the herbs that bloom early in the season (spring herbs or wildflowers -
SPH) before the
tree canopy closes and those (summer herbs or wildflowers (SMH) that bloom afterward.
You will be given the pressed, dried leaves from the following species:
Digitize andor photocopy each leaf (see
Collect data from each leaf and complete Table 1. To do so:
(a) record whether the leaf is derived from a tree (T), summer herb (SRH) or
herb (SPH); (b) record the type of margin; (c) measure
the length (in mm) of the leaf from the base of petiole to the leaf tip; (d) measure
the width (mm) of the leaf at the widest/largest point; (e) measure the length
of the petiole (mm); and (f) remove the petiole and weigh
the leaf blade (gm).
Using the photocopy or print (black & white is fine) of the digital image determine the total blade area and total sinus area for each leaf. On the
photocopy draw a straight line connecting the lobes, if any, of each leaf. Then, cut
out separately the areas representing the sinuses and the blade. To do
this, first cut out the entire leaf including sinus areas. Then, cut
out the separate sinus areas.
Weigh the collective
cuttings from the sinuses and the leaf. Record data in Table 1.
Convert the weight of the cuttings to area using the
tracing technique (use Table 2
to record your conversion factor data). Alternately,
you can digitize the leaves with a flatbed scanner and perform the remainder
of the operations using a program such as
ImageJ or Scion Image.
Complete Table 1 by calculating petiole/leaf length ratio, the area of the sinuses and the blades, and
the sinus area /blade area ratio.
estimate leaf thickness, divide the divide the leaf weight (g) by its area (in
calculate the leaf specific weight (g m-2). Thicker leaves
will have a higher specific weight.
Share your data with another member of the class
Complete the calculations in Table 1, Table 2, and the summary table (Table 3) by entering your data into an Excel (or other) spreadsheet.
Table 1. Data Collection Table
|Tree, spring herb, summer herb?||Species||Leaf margin (entire, toothed, lobed)||Leaf length (mm)||Blade width (mm)||Blade weight (g)||Petiole length (mm)||Sinus clippings weight (g)||Blade clipping weight (g)||Petiole / leaf ratio||Sinus area (mm2)||Blade area (mm2)||Blade / sinus area||Leaf specific weight (g m-2)|
|Table 2. Tracing Technique Conversion Factor Data|
|Dimensions of paper standard (the size of your paper standard should be as large as possible)||____ mm x ____ mm|
|Area of of paper standard (mm2)|
|Weight of paper standard (m)|
|Conversion factor (mm2 g-1)|
Table 3. Summary Data
|Plant Type||Mean leaf length (mm)||Mean blade area (mm2)||% species with simple leaves||% species with entire margins||Petiole / leaf length ratio||sinus area / blade area ratio||Leaf specific weight (g m-2)|
Results/Analysis: Test each of the following hypotheses by performing suitable statistical tests (t test or ANOVA). For each, restate the hypothesis as a null hypothesis (Ho), record the probability value, and state the conclusion concerning the hypothesis (do your data support or refute your hypotheses?).
Summer herbs have larger leaves (blade area) than
p = ______
Leaf petioles are longer (petiole/leaf length
ratio) in spring herbs than summer herbs
p = ______
Trees will have thicker leaves (leaf specific
area) than herbs
p = ______
Spring herbs will have thicker leaves (leaf
specific area) than summer herbs
p = ______
Herbs will have a great frequency of compound and
dissected leaves (sinus area / blade area ratio)than trees
p = ______
Spring herbs will have a greater frequency of
compound and dissected leaves (sinus area / blade area ratio) than summer
p = ______
Test one other hypothesis/prediction of your own
p = ______
Post Lab: (due next cycle in lab. Please turn in, typed):
An abstract summarizing the experiment and addressing each of the SEVEN hypotheses/conclusions listed in the Results/Analysis Section. The abstract should be typed and be approximately one page in length. The questions scattered throughout the exercises provide a guide to the types of items to include in the abstract. I recommend starting by saying; "The purpose of this lab was to....." Then, describe briefly each major thing we did and the outcome and whether your data were expected or not? These could be mini-paragraphs (two or so sentences each) or part of one larger single paragraph.
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Burnham RJ, Pitman NCA, Johnson KR, Wilf P (2001) Habitat-related error in estimating temperature from leaf margins in a humid tropical forest. American Journal of Botany 88: 1096 - 1102.
Givnish, TJ (1987) Comparative studies of leaf form: Assessing the relative roles of selective pressures and phylogenetic constraints. New Phytologist 106 (Suppl): 131 - 160.
Harding, Lynda. Exploration of leaf shapes. From Biology Lab Clearinghouse. Accessed Jan 2004.
Westmoreland, D (1989) Leaf morphology & light microenvironments: A field exercise. American Biology Teacher 51: 303 - 306
Weyers JDB, Hoglund HO, McEwen (1998) Teaching botany on the sunny side of the tree: promoting investigative studies of plant ecophysiology through observations and experiments on sun and shade leaves. J. Biol Educ 32: 181 -190.
Some Trends in Leaf Evolution
01/07/2009 © Copyright by SG
01/07/2009 © Copyright by SG