Skip to main content

B3: Genomic and functional underpinning of reaction norms of the leaf-economic spectrum across environmental gradients

Prof. Dr. Anja Linstädter

Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 1, 14469 Potsdam

Tel. +49-331-9771920, anja.linstaedteruni-potsdamde


Prof. Dr. Michael Lenhard

Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm

Tel. +49-331-9775580, michael.lenharduni-potsdamde


Open positions:

Position CRC1644/B32 – PhD student Linstädter group



Leaf morphology and function are plastic in response to many environmental cues. One powerful method for describing leaf phenotypes is the leaf economics spectrum (LES) that builds on economic theory and assumes that plants must deal with trade-offs in the resource allocation to leaves. In particular, LES describes how different plant species optimize resource acquisition and use through their leaf traits, such as leaf lifespan, size, nitrogen content or photosynthetic capacity. LES projects multivariate correlations between these leaf traits onto a single axis of variation. Variation along this axis reflects resource-acquisitive versus resource-conservative strategies of plants, and the LES successfully describes differences in plant strategies across and within species. However, it is un-clear how the trait correlations underlying the LES are modified by the plasticity of the individual component leaf traits, and how these correlations in turn constrain their plastic responses. To ad-dress these questions, this project will investigate variation in the plasticity of the leaf traits underlying the LES across A. thaliana accessions in response to changes in nitrogen availability and ambient temperature. In particular, we will ask: (1) How are the component LES traits and the resulting com-posite trait modified in response to nitrogen availability, and which role does temperature play in this context? (2) What is the genetic and molecular basis of variation in plasticity of LES traits to these environmental cues? (3) Is the variation in plasticity of LES traits among accessions adaptive and associated with environmental parameters at accessions’ sites of origin? (4) How are accessions’ plasticity patterns related to their ecological strategies? These studies will ultimately elucidate the evolution and adaptive value of plasticity in a key aspect of plants’ ecological strategies.


Project-related publications

Schmitz, G, Linstädter, A, Frank, ASK, Dittberner, H, Thome, J, Schrader, A, Linne von Berg, K-H, Fulgione, A, Coupland, G, de Meaux, J 2023. Environmental filtering of life-history trait diversity in urban populations of Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Ecology, in press, doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.14211.

Halbritter, A.H., De Boeck, H.J., Eycott, A.E., Robinson, D., Vicca, S., Berauer, B., Tai Christiansen, C., Estiarte, M., Grünzweig, J.M., Gya, R., Hansen, K., Jentsch, A., Lee, H., Lindner, S., Marshall, J., Peñuelas, J., Kappel Schmidt, I., Reinsch, S., Wilfahrt, P., ClimMani Working Group (with Linstädter, A.) & Vandvik, V., 2020. The handbook for standardized field and laboratory measurements in terrestrial climate change experiments and observational studies (ClimEx). Methods in Ecology & Evolution 11, 22-37.

Takou, M., Wieters, B., Kopriva, S., Coupland, G., Linstädter, A., de Meaux, J. 2019. Linking genes with ecological strategies in Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Experimental Botany 4, 1141-1151.

Linstädter A, Schellberg J, Brüser K, Oomen RJ, Du Preez CC, Ruppert JC and Ewert NF (2014). Are there consistent grazing indicators in drylands? Testing plant functional types of various complexity in South Africa’s grassland and savanna biomes.PLoS One9(8):e104672.

Moreno García, CA, Schellberg J, Ewert F, Brüser K, Canales-Prati P, Linstädter A, Oomen RJ, Ruppert JC and Perelman SB (2014). Response of community-aggregated plant functional traits along grazing gradients: Insights from African semi-arid grasslands.Applied Vegetation Science 17:470-481.

Zimmermann J, Higgins SI, Grimm V, Hoffmann J, Linstädter A (2015). Local density effects on individual production are dynamic: Insights from natural stands of a perennial savanna grass.Oecologia 178:1125-1135.

Tsuchimatsu, T., Kakui, H., Yamazaki, M., Marona, C., Tsutsui, H., Hedhly, A., Meng, D., Sato, Y., Städler, T., Grossniklaus, U., Kanaoka, M.M., Lenhard, M., Nordborg, M., Shimizu, K.K. (2020) Adaptive reduction of male gamete number in the selfing plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature Communications 11: 2885.

Anastasiou, E., Kenz, S., Gerstung, M., MacLean, D., Timmer, J., Fleck, C., and Lenhard, M. (2007) Control of plant organ size by KLUH/CYP78A5-dependent intercellular signaling. Developmental Cell, 13:843-56.