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Evidences of adaptive traits to rocky substrates undermine paradigm of habitat preference of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica
Badalamenti, F.; Alagna, A.; Fici, S. (2015). Evidences of adaptive traits to rocky substrates undermine paradigm of habitat preference of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica. NPG Scientific Reports 5(8804): 6 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep08804
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Plant ecology; Posidonia oceanica (Linnaeus) Delile, 1813 [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Badalamenti, F.
  • Alagna, A.
  • Fici, S.

Abstract
    Posidonia oceanica meadows are acknowledged as one of the most valuable ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea. P. oceanica has been historically described as a species typically growing on mobile substrates whose development requires precursor communities. Here we document for the first time the extensive presence of sticky hairs covering P. oceanica seedling roots. Adhesive root hairs allow the seedlings to firmly anchor to rocky substrates with anchorage strength values up to 5.23 N, regardless of the presence of algal cover and to colonise bare rock without the need for precursor assemblages to facilitate settlement. Adhesive root hairs are a morphological trait common on plants living on rocks in high-energy habitats, such as the riverweed Podostemaceae and the seagrass Phyllospadix scouleri. The presence of adhesive root hairs in P. oceanica juveniles suggests a preference of this species for hard substrates. Such an adaptation leads to hypothesize a new microsite driven bottleneck in P. oceanica seedling survival linked to substrate features. The mechanism described can favour plant establishment on rocky substrates, in contrast with traditional paradigms. This feature may have strongly influenced P. oceanica pattern of colonisation through sexual propagules in both the past and present.

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