Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Shrub


In semiarid drylands water shortage and trampling by large herbivores are two factors limiting plant growth and distribution. Trampling can strongly affect plant performance, but little is known about responses of morphological and mechanical traits of woody plants to trampling and their possible interaction with water availability. Seedlings of four shrubs (Caragana intermedia, Cynanchum komarovi, Hedysarum laeve and Hippophae rhamnoides) common in the semiarid Mu Us Sandland were grown at 4% and 10% soil water content and exposed to either simulated trampling or not. Growth, morphological and mechanical traits were measured. Trampling decreased vertical height and increased basal diameter and stem resistance to bending and rupture (as indicated by the increased minimum bend and break force) in all species. Increasing water availability increased biomass, stem length, basal diameter, leaf thickness and rigidity of stems in all species except C. komarovii. However, there were no interactive effects of trampling and water content on any of these traits among species except for minimum bend force and the ratio between stem resistance to rupture and bending. Overall shrub species have a high degree of trampling resistance by morphological and mechanical modifications, and the effects of trampling do not depend on water availability. However, the increasing water availability can also affect trade-off between stem strength and flexibility caused by trampling, which differs among species. Water plays an important role not only in growth but also in trampling adaptation in drylands.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Irrigation, Shrub, Hippophae rhamnoides, Sea-buckthorn, Water content, Water activity


Berries are associated with health benefits. Little is known about the effect of baseline metabolome on the overall metabolic responses to berry intake.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Metabolism, Shrub, Metabolomics, Metabolome, Berry, Sea-buckthorn, Berries


Large-diameter trees dominate the structure, dynamics and function of many temperate and tropical forests. However, their attendant contributions to forest heterogeneity are rarely addressed. We established the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot, a 25.6 ha permanent plot within which we tagged and mapped all 30,973 woody stems ≥1 cm dbh, all 1,966 snags ≥10 cm dbh, and all shrub patches ≥2 m(2). Basal area of the 26 woody species was 62.18 m(2)/ha, of which 61.60 m(2)/ha was trees and 0.58 m(2)/ha was tall shrubs. Large-diameter trees (≥100 cm dbh) comprised 1.5% of stems, 31.8% of basal area, and 17.6% of the heterogeneity of basal area, with basal area dominated by Tsuga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii. Small-diameter subpopulations of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Tsuga heterophylla and Thuja plicata, as well as all tree species combined, exhibited significant aggregation relative to the null model of complete spatial randomness (CSR) up to 9 m (P≤0.001). Patterns of large-diameter trees were either not different from CSR (Tsuga heterophylla), or exhibited slight aggregation (Pseudotsuga menziesii and Thuja plicata). Significant spatial repulsion between large-diameter and small-diameter Tsuga heterophylla suggests that large-diameter Tsuga heterophylla function as organizers of tree demography over decadal timescales through competitive interactions. Comparison among two forest dynamics plots suggests that forest structural diversity responds to intermediate-scale environmental heterogeneity and disturbances, similar to hypotheses about patterns of species richness, and richness- ecosystem function. Large mapped plots with detailed within-plot environmental spatial covariates will be required to test these hypotheses.

Concepts: Ecosystem, Forest, Tree, Shrub, Douglas-fir, Null hypothesis, Thuja plicata, Tsuga heterophylla


The black chokeberry-aronia (Aronia melanocarpa Elliot) is a shrub native to North America although nowadays well known in Eastern Europe. The fruits are regarded as the richest source of antioxidant phytonutrients among fruit crops and vegetables. Chokeberries can be easily propagated by seeds but this method is not recommended. Micropropagation is far more efficient than other conventional cloning methods like layering or softwood cuttings. Aronia clones are propagated in vitro through four- or three-stage method based on subculturing of shoot explants. The double diluted MS or full strength MS medium with elevated 50% Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) content are used in the initiation and proliferation chokeberry in vitro cultures, respectively. They are supplemented with 0.5-1.0 mg LBA, and 0.05 mg LIBA. The double-phase medium is recommended in the last passage before shoot rooting. The regenerated shoots could be rooted both in vitro on double diluted MS with 0.05 mg L(-1) IBA or in vivo in peat and perlite substrate and subsequently grown in the greenhouse.

Concepts: Fruit, Shrub, Aronia, Plant propagation, Accessory fruit, Photinia


Ethnopharmacological relevance: This study aimed to document traditional uses of medicinal plants in the Marmaris district of south-west Anatolia and to compare this information with our current knowledge of plant medicine in Turkey and the Mediterranean countries. Materials and methods: We collected the information through semi-structured interviews with 98 informants (51 men, 47 women). In addition, the relative importance value of species was determined and informant consensus factor (FIC) was calculated for the medicinal plants included in the study. RESULTS: We report the medicinal uses of 64 plant species belonging to 35 families, including the uses of 9 essential oils. Most of the medicinal plants used in the Marmaris district belong to the families Lamiaceae (13 species) and Asteraceae (4 species). The most commonly used plant species are Salvia fruticosa, Origanum onites, Lavandula stoechas, Mentha pulegium and Satureja thymbra. For the purposes of making essential oils, Salvia fruticosa is the plant species most commonly used. Two of the plants we report on (Liquidambar orientalis, Phlomis lycia) are endemic to Turkey and the East Agean Islands. Sideritis libanotica subsp. linearis is endemic to Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. Thymus cilicicus is endemic to Turkey, East Agean Islands, Lebanon and Syria. For six plant species (Narcissus tazetta, Lagenaria siceraria, Hypericum montbrettii, Phlomis grandiflora var. grandiflora, Polygonum bellardii, Crataegus aronia var. aronia) we report new different ethnobotanical uses not previously reported in Turkey. CONCLUSIONS: Some plants are used for medicinal purposes both in Marmaris and in other parts of Turkey and in the Mediterranean countries, either for the same or for different purposes. This paper helps preserve valuable information that may otherwise be lost to future generations.

Concepts: Species, Mediterranean Sea, Shrub, Lamiaceae, Medicinal plants, Essential oil, Anatolia, Lavender


Shrubs have expanded in Arctic ecosystems over the past century, resulting in significant changes to albedo, ecosystem function, and plant community composition. Willow and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus, L. muta) and moose (Alces alces) extensively browse Arctic shrubs, and may influence their architecture, growth, and reproduction. Furthermore, these herbivores may alter forage plants in such a way as to increase the quantity and accessibility of their own food source. We estimated the effect of winter browsing by ptarmigan and moose on an abundant, early-successional willow (Salix alaxensis) in northern Alaska by comparing browsed to unbrowsed branches. Ptarmigan browsed 82-89% of willows and removed 30-39% of buds, depending on study area and year. Moose browsed 17-44% of willows and browsed 39-55% of shoots. Browsing inhibited apical dominance and activated axillary and adventitious buds to produce new vegetative shoots. Ptarmigan- and moose-browsed willow branches produced twice the volume of shoot growth but significantly fewer catkins the following summer compared with unbrowsed willow branches. Shoots on browsed willows were larger and produced 40-60% more buds compared to unbrowsed shoots. This process of shoot production at basal parts of the branch is the mechanism by which willows develop a highly complex “broomed” architecture after several years of browsing. Broomed willows were shorter and more likely to be re-browsed by ptarmigan, but not moose. Ptarmigan likely benefit from the greater quantity and accessibility of buds on previously browsed willows and may increase the carrying capacity of their own habitat. Despite the observed tolerance of willows to browsing, their vertical growth and reproduction were strongly inhibited by moose and ptarmigan. Browsing by these herbivores therefore needs to be considered in future models of shrub expansion in the Arctic.

Concepts: Tree, Alaska, Shrub, Willow, Norway, Shoot, Moose, Catkin


Selective herbivory of palatable plant species provides a competitive advantage for unpalatable plant species, which often have slow growth rates and produce slowly decomposable litter. We hypothesized that through a shift in the vegetation community from palatable, deciduous dwarf shrubs to unpalatable, evergreen dwarf shrubs, selective herbivory may counteract the increased shrub abundance that is otherwise found in tundra ecosystems, in turn interacting with the responses of ecosystem carbon © stocks and CO2 balance to climatic warming. We tested this hypothesis in a 19-year field experiment with factorial treatments of warming and simulated herbivory on the dominant deciduous dwarf shrub Vaccinium myrtillus. Warming was associated with a significantly increased vegetation abundance, with the strongest effect on deciduous dwarf shrubs, resulting in greater rates of both gross ecosystem production (GEP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) as well as increased C stocks. Simulated herbivory increased the abundance of evergreen dwarf shrubs, most importantly Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum, which led to a recent shift in the dominant vegetation from deciduous to evergreen dwarf shrubs. Simulated herbivory caused no effect on GEP and ER or the total ecosystem C stocks, indicating that the vegetation shift counteracted the herbivore-induced C loss from the system. A larger proportion of the total ecosystem C stock was found aboveground, rather than belowground, in plots treated with simulated herbivory. We conclude that by providing a competitive advantage to unpalatable plant species with slow growth rates and long life spans, selective herbivory may promote aboveground C stocks in a warming tundra ecosystem and, through this mechanism, counteract C losses that result from plant biomass consumption. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Plant, Botany, Shrub, Biome, Tundra, Bilberry, Deciduous, Crowberry


Warming-induced expansion of trees and shrubs into tundra vegetation will strongly impact Arctic ecosystems. Today, a small subset of the boreal woody flora found during certain Plio-Pleistocene warm periods inhabits Greenland. Whether the twenty-first century warming will induce a re-colonization of a rich woody flora depends on the roles of climate and migration limitations in shaping species ranges. Using potential treeline and climatic niche modelling, we project shifts in areas climatically suitable for tree growth and 56 Greenlandic, North American and European tree and shrub species from the Last Glacial Maximum through the present and into the future. In combination with observed tree plantings, our modelling highlights that a majority of the non-native species find climatically suitable conditions in certain parts of Greenland today, even in areas harbouring no native trees. Analyses of analogous climates indicate that these conditions are widespread outside Greenland, thus increasing the likelihood of woody invasions. Nonetheless, we find a substantial migration lag for Greenland’s current and future woody flora. In conclusion, the projected climatic scope for future expansions is strongly limited by dispersal, soil development and other disequilibrium dynamics, with plantings and unintentional seed dispersal by humans having potentially large impacts on spread rates.

Concepts: Plant, Climate, Climate change, Tree, Plant morphology, Shrub, Tundra, Tree line


In the 20th century, annual mean temperatures in the European Alps rose by almost 1 K and are predicted to rise further, increasing the impact of temperature on alpine plants. The role of light in the heat hardening of plants is still not fully understood. Here, the alpine dwarf shrub Vaccinium gaultherioides was exposed in situ to controlled short-term heat spells (150 min with leaf temperatures 43-49°C) and long-term heat waves (7 d, 30°C) under different irradiation intensities. Lethal leaf temperatures (LT50 ) were calculated. Low solar irradiation (max. 250 PPFD) during short-term heat treatments mitigated heat stress, shown by reduced leaf tissue damage and higher Fv /Fm than in darkness. The increase in xanthophyll cycle activity and ascorbate concentration was more pronounced under low light, and free radical scavenging activity increased independent of light conditions. During long-term heat wave exposure, heat tolerance increased from 3.7 to 6.5°C with decreasing mean solar irradiation intensity (585 to 115 PPFD). Long-term exposure to heat under low light enhanced heat hardening and increased photosynthetic pigment, dehydroascorbate and violaxanthin concentration. In conclusion, V. gaultherioides is able to withstand temperatures of around 50°C, and its heat hardening can be enhanced by low light during both short and long-term heat treatment. Data showing the specific role of light during short and long-term heat exposure and the potential risk of lethal damage in alpine shrubs as a result of rising temperature are discussed.

Concepts: Energy, Light, Redox, Temperature, Hyperthermia, Thermodynamics, Vitamin C, Shrub


Because plants do not possess a defined germline, deleterious somatic mutations can be passed to gametes, and a large number of cell divisions separating zygote from gamete formation may lead to many mutations in long-lived plants. We sequenced the genome of two terminal branches of a 234-year-old oak tree and found several fixed somatic single-nucleotide variants whose sequential appearance in the tree could be traced along nested sectors of younger branches. Our data suggest that stem cells of shoot meristems in trees are robustly protected from the accumulation of mutations.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Cell division, Chromosome, Plant, Tree, Gamete, Shrub