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Physiological and ecological responses of an alpine plant Picea likiangensis at different altitudinal gradients

Yonglei Jiang, Xiaomao Cheng, Haiyun Zi and Xiaoxia Huang

Picea likiangensis (Franch.) Pritz., an evergreen alpine conifer woody plant species is endemic to Yulong snow mountains, Northwest China. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the succession and stability of an ecosystem. In this study, a multitude of physiological indices, such as chlorophyll, malondialdehyde, soluble sugar, proline, soluble protein, antioxidant enzymes (ascorbate peroxidase, catalase, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase), nutrient content (carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus), C/N ratio, N/P ratio and δ13C, were measured in the needles of P. likiangensis current-year sunny branches grown at four different altitudes (ranging from 2900 to 3350 m). Our results revealed significant changes in the leaf physiological and ecological traits of P. likiangensis along altitudinal gradients. The contents of chlorophyll (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and total chlorophyll), total phosphorus and total nitrogen of P. likiangensis reached the maximum values at 3200 m altitude, indicating that P. likiangensis has the highest photosynthetic capacity at this zone. In addition, the concentrations of soluble sugar, proline and soluble protein were increased along altitudinal gradients, suggesting that P. likiangensis exhibits high tolerance to abiotic stress via osmotic adjustment. Furthermore, the activities of ascorbate peroxidase, catalase and peroxidase were remarkably increased from 3200 to 3350 m altitude, implying that P. likiangensis had suffered from heavy abiotic stress in high-altitude area. Altogether, our findings revealed that 3200 m altitude might be the optimum zone for the growth of P. likiangensis in Yulong Snow Mountain, Northwest China. Nevertheless, the expansion of P. likiangensis population was limited by harsh environment at altitudes above 3350 m

To Cite this article: Jiang, Y., X. Cheng, H. Zi and X. Huang. 2021. Physiological and ecological responses of an alpine plant Picea likiangensis at different altitudinal gradients. Pak. J. Bot., 53(6): DOI:

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