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Basil leaf traits

Cite this dataset

Martin, Adam (2022). Basil leaf traits [Dataset]. Dryad.


Microbial inoculations or “biofertilizers” represent novel contributions to sustainable agriculture. While belowground mechanisms surrounding how biofertilizers enhance crop production are well described, their role in aboveground trait expression remains less well explored. We quantified infraspecific variation in Leaf Economics Spectrum (LES) traits in response to 10 biofertilizer treatments in basil (Ocimum basiclicum) cultivated under hydroponic conditions. Multiple physiological (i.e., maximum photosynthesis rates (A), dark respiration (R), leaf-level light compensation points (LLCP)) and morphological traits (i.e., leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf thickness) varied significantly across microbial treatments. Following treatments, basil plants differentiated from one another along an infraspecific LES, with certain plants expressing more resource acquiring LES trait values (i.e., high A, R, leaf N, and low LMA), vs. others that expressed the opposite suite of resource conserving LES trait values. Infraspecific trait covariation largely matched LES patterns observed among plants globally. Multivariate and hierarchical analyses further revealed that certain treatments—namely those including Bacillus sp. strains—increased leaf resource capture traits such as A and leaf N. Biofertilizers influence plant performance through a role in moderating infraspecific leaf trait variation, thereby suggesting aboveground leaf traits may be used to diagnose optimal biofertilizer formulations in basil and other crops.


Data was collected on plants growing in hydropnic conditions, using an LI-6800 portable infrared gas analyzer, along with elemental analysis.