Compared with serpentine floras of Southeast Asia, the serpentine vegetation of Sri Lanka is impoverished in regard to serpentine endemics and nickel hyperaccumulators. All species so far documented from the serpentine outcrops of Sri Lanka also have non-serpentine populations; it is unclear whether the serpentine populations are physiologically distinct and deserve ecotypic recognition. We conducted a preliminary study to examine whether serpentine and non-serpentine populations of Fimbristylis ovata represent locally adapted ecotypes by investigating their growth and potential for nickel uptake and tolerance under greenhouse conditions. Although both populations of F. ovata showed a similar growth pattern in serpentine soil during short-term exposure (21 days), the non-serpentine population was unable to survive in serpentine soil under long-term exposure (4 months). Both populations were able to uptake nickel from serpentine soil during short-term exposure (21 days). The serpentine population, however, translocated significantly more nickel from its roots to shoots (translocation factor 0.43) than the non-serpentine population (translocation factor 0.29). Our preliminary investigations suggest that the serpentine and non-serpentine populations of F. ovata may be locally adapted to their respective soils. However, additional studies are required to determine whether the populations deserve ecotypic recognition.



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The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT14232.

NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Nishanta Rajakaruna was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.

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