Plant response to water stress of native and non-native Oenothera drummondii populations.
Invasive plants can spread over climatically diverse areas. We explore the effects of drought on gas exchange and water relations on the invasive dune species Oenothera drummondii, using plants from four populations with different rainfall and temperatures regimes. Plant material was obtained germinating plants from one native and three non-native populations in a greenhouse. Drought stress was induced by withholding water. Responses to drought stressed plants were then compared to well-watered controls. Measurements of gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and leaf traits were taken initially and every 10 days after water was withheld, until day 36 when plants were re-watered and recover capacity was measured. The effect of water stress was more evident in Fv/Fm and gas exchange variables. The results suggest that this species possess a mechanism of thermal dissipation of energy. Leaf relative water content was significant lower in drought stressed than control plants. At the end of withholding water period, stressed plants are separated from control plants along the axis I of the ordination analysis evidencing differences in functional traits. All plants recovered well after re-watering. Our results provide evidence for permanent differences in morphological traits and functional responses to drought stress among native and invasive populations of O. drummondii. Although we have only studied four populations, these results may provide evidence for the role of plasticity in contributing to the invasion success of this species.