Adaptive morphoanatomy and ecophysiology of Billbergia euphemiae, a hemiepiphyte Bromeliaceae

Abstract Habitats under distinct selective pressures exert adaptative pressures that can lead individuals of the same species to present different life strategies for their survival. The aim of this study was to analyse morphoanatomical and physiological traits for identification of adaptive ecological strategies related to both terrestrial and epiphytic life phases of Billbergia euphemiae. It was verified that B. euphemiae showed lower height, as well smaller length, width and foliar area in epiphytic phase than in terrestrial phase. Concerning to foliar anatomy, the thicknesses of leaf and water-storage parenchyma were higher in terrestrial phase, as densities of stomata and scales on the abaxial surface were higher in epiphytic phase. About the contents of photosynthetic pigments, only chlorophyll a/b ratio showed differences between life phases. In both habits, plants exhibited roots with absorption hair. In epiphytic phase, roots exhibited higher velamen thickness, smaller outer cortex, higher number of inner cortex cell layers and higher number of protoxylem poles. Thus, B. euphemiae individuals in epiphytic exhibited lots of traits related to water retention, once these plants are not into the ground. Besides, the plasticity observed may contribute for survival of this group in habitats submitted to modifications (e.g., climate change and other variations caused by human interference).