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Title

Gypsophile chemistry unveiled: Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy provides new insight into plant adaptations to gypsum soils

AuthorsPalacio, Sara ; Aitkenhead, Matt; Escudero, Adrián; Montserrat-Martí, Gabriel ; Maestro Martínez, Melchor ; Jean Robertson, A. H.
Issue Date2014
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 9(9): e107285 (2014)
AbstractGypsum soils are among the most restrictive and widespread substrates for plant life. Plants living on gypsum are classified as gypsophiles (exclusive to gypsum) and gypsovags (non-exclusive to gypsum). The former have been separated into wide and narrow gypsophiles, each with a putative different ecological strategy. Mechanisms displayed by gypsum plants to compete and survive on gypsum are still not fully understood. The aim of this study was to compare the main chemical groups in the leaves of plants with different specificity to gypsum soils and to explore the ability of Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra analyzed with neural network (NN) modelling to discriminate groups of gypsum plants. Leaf samples of 14 species with different specificity to gypsum soils were analysed with FTIR spectroscopy coupled to neural network (NN) modelling. Spectral data were further related to the N, C, S, P, K, Na, Ca, Mg and ash concentrations of samples. The FTIR spectra of the three groups analyzed showed distinct features that enabled their discrimination through NN models. Wide gypsophiles stood out for the strong presence of inorganic compounds in their leaves, particularly gypsum and, in some species, also calcium oxalate crystals. The spectra of gypsovags had less inorganic chemical species, while those of narrow gypsum endemisms had low inorganics but shared with wide gypsophiles the presence of oxalate. Gypsum and calcium oxalate crystals seem to be widespread amongst gypsum specialist plants, possibly as a way to tolerate excess Ca and sulphate. However, other mechanisms such as the accumulation of sulphates in organic molecules are also compatible with plant specialization to gypsum. While gypsovags seem to be stress tolerant plants that tightly regulate the uptake of S and Ca, the ability of narrow gypsum endemisms to accumulate excess Ca as oxalate may indicate their incipient specialization to gypsum. © 2014 Palacio et al.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107285
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/103072
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0107285
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107285
issn: 1932-6203
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