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Defense through foliar anatomical alterations in large spike buffel grass [Cenchrus prieurii (Kunth) Maire] against multiple environmental stresses

Sana Basharat, Farooq Ahmad, Mansoor Hameed and Muhammad Shahbaz Naeem

Salinity, drought, and temperature stresses are major environmental threats that change the plants’ distributional pattern in natural ecosystems. Cenchrus prieurii (Kunth) Maire is a typical desert grass species that can colonize different habitats i.e., cool mountains, arid and semiarid regions. It was hypothesized that wide adaptability potential in Cenchrus prieurii may be linked to plasticity in morpho-anatomical features. Cenchrus prieurii populations were collected from different habitats of the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which were exposed to multiple environmental stresses, i.e., aridity, salinity, waterlogging and cool temperature and were evaluated for foliar structural modifications. All populations showed morpho-anatomical modifications that were related to water conservation. The Thal Desert populations such as collected from inter-dune flats (DID), marginal area (DMA) and loamy sand (DLS) were superior in midrib, lamina, epidermal and mesophyll thicknesses, and phloem area. The populations facing cold stress like foothill region (CFH) showed thicker lamina, epidermal, thickness, and larger vascular bundles and metaxylem vessels. The population from highest elevation (CHE) collected from the coolest habitats showed the largest parenchymatous cells. The sand dune population (DSD) was collected from the driest area had the thinnest leaves (midrib and lamina), epidermis layer and mesophyll, the smallest parenchymatous cells, bulliform cells, metaxylem vessels and vascular bundles. Another specific feature of SDS population was the formation of large aerenchymatous cavities and numerous microhairs in leaf sheath. Plasticity in anatomical traits was significantly high in all populations, and this might be a strong reason for successful colonization and adaptability of this species to a variety of habitat types, hence contributing significantly to its wide distributional range.

To Cite this article: Basharat, S., F. Ahmad, M. Hameed and M.S. Naeem. 2023. Defense through foliar anatomical alterations in large spike buffel grass [Cenchrus prieurii (Kunth) Maire] against multiple environmental stresses. Pak. J. Bot., 55(6): DOI:

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