BMC Plant Biol. 2023 Nov 15;23(1):562. doi: 10.1186/s12870-023-04583-3.
BACKGROUND: Eucommia ulmoides leaves have high medicinal and economic value as a dual-purpose substance for medicine and food. Employing leaves from 13 natural populations of Eucommia ulmoides as research objects, this study reveals the variation patterns of intra-specific and inter-specific trait variation and explores the response of leaf characteristics to geographical and climatic changes, aiming to provide a scientific basis for the efficient utilization of leaf resources and the breeding of superior varieties.
RESULTS: Descriptive statistical analysis and nested analysis of variance showed significant differences in 11 leaf traits of Eucommia ulmoides inter-populations and intra-populations, with an average coefficient of variation of 17.45%. The coefficient of variation for average leaf phenotypic traits is 20.77%, and the leaf phenotypic variation is mainly from the variation intra-populations. Principal component analysis reveals that the cumulative contribution rate of the top three principal components which mainly contributed to the phenotypic variation of Eucommia ulmoides leaves reached 74.98%, which could be sorted into size traits (34.57%), color traits (25.82%) and shape traits (14.58%). In addition, correlation analysis expresses there is a specific co-variation pattern among leaf traits, with a strong connection between shape, size, and color traits. Geographic and climatic distances are significantly correlated, and mantel test and correlation analysis indicate that leaf traits of Eucommia ulmoides are mainly influenced by altitude. With the increase of altitude, the leaves become smaller. Partial correlation analysis shows that after controlling climate factors, the correlation between some characters and geographical factors disappears significantly. Temperature and precipitation have a great influence on the variation of leaf phenotypic traits, and the larger the leaves are in areas with high temperature and heavy rainfall.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings contribute to a further understanding of the leaf morphological characteristics of Eucommia ulmoides and the extent to which the environment influences leaf trait variation. They can provide a scientific basis for the protection and application of Eucommia ulmoides leaf resources in the future.