In food-productive river basins, ecosystems reliant on natural flows are affected by climate change and water removal. One such example is Australia's Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), to which the ecologically important black box tree Eucalyptus largiflorens (Myrtaceae) is unique. Little is known about its mineral nutrition and response to flooding. A field study conducted at Hattah Kulkyne National Park on the MDB examined nutrient and Al distribution in mature and young foliage of trees whose status varied with respect to the presence of surface floodwaters. Black box is also of interest due to emerging evidence of its capacity to accumulate high foliar salt concentrations. Here, cryo scanning electron microscopy alone (SEM), combined with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy were applied to evaluate leaf anatomy and elemental patterns at the cellular and whole-leaf levels. Variation in whole-leaf elemental levels across flooded and dry trees aligned with known nutritional fluctuations in this drought-tolerant species reliant on occasional infrequent flooding. The microprobe data provide evidence of drought tolerance by demonstrating that extended conditions of lack of water to trees do not elicit leaf anatomical changes nor changes to leaf cellular storage of these elements. Foliar Na concentrations of ∼2000-6000 mg kg-1 DW were found co-localised with Cl in mesophyll and dermal cells of young and mature leaves, suggesting vacuolar salt disposal as a detoxification strategy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science