How do two Lupinus species respond to temperature along an altitudinal gradient in the Venezuelan Andes?
Temperature determines plant formations and species distribution along altitudinal gradients. Plants in the tropical high Andes, through different physiological and morphological characteristics, respond to freezing night temperatures and high daytime energy inputs which occur anytime of the year. The main objective of this study was to characterize day and night temperature related responses of two Lupinus species with different altitudinal ranges (L. meridanus, 1,800-3,600 and L. eromonomos, 3,700-4,300 m of altitude). Are there differences in night low temperature resistance mechanisms between the species along the gradient? How do these species respond, in terms of optimum temperature for photosynthesis, to increasing altitude? Lupinus meridanus shows frost avoidance, in contrast to L. eromonomos, which tolerates freezing at higher altitudes. Optimum temperature for photosynthesis decreases along the gradient for both species. Maximum C0(2) assimilation rates were higher in L. meridanus, while L. eromonomos showed decreasing C0(2) assimilation rates at the higher altitude. In most cases, measured daily leaf temperature is always within the 80 % of optimum for photosynthesis. L. meridanus7 upper distribution limit seems to be restricted by cold resistance mechanisms, while L. eromonomos7 to a combination of both cold resistance and to C0(2) assimilation responses at higher altitudes.