- • In many plant species, the alternative respiratory pathway consisting of alternative oxidase (AOX) is affected by growth temperature. The adaptive significance of this temperature-sensitivity is unresolved.
- • Here, leaf and spike (flower cluster) AOX protein content and spike/floral reflectance of genotypes from European Plantago lanceolata populations found in regions differing in reproductive season temperatures were measured. Cloned genotypes grown at controlled warm and cool temperatures were used to assess the natural within- and between-population variation in AOX content, temperature-sensitive phenotypic plasticity in content, and the relationship between AOX and temperature-sensitive floral/spike reflectance.
- • AOX content and plasticity were genetically variable. Leaf AOX content, although greater at cool temperature, was relatively low and not statistically different across populations. Spike AOX content was greater than in leaves. Spike AOX plasticity differed significantly among populations and climate-types and showed significant negative correlation with floral reflectance plasticity, which also varied among populations. Genotypes with more AOX at cool than at warm temperature had greater floral reflectance plasticity; genotypes with relatively more AOX at warm temperature had less floral reflectance plasticity.
- • The data support the hypothesis that plasticity of AOX content in reproductive tissues is associated with long-term thermal acclimatization.