Could abiotic environment shape fleshy fruit traits? A field study of the desert shrub Ochradenus baccatus

A. Lotan, I. Izhaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the reciprocal relations between fleshy-fruited plants and their seed dispersers, the pulp shape and content may have important consequences for the plant's fitness through their influence on frugivore's fruit choice and thus on seed dispersal success. It is completely unknown to what extent the variation of these fruit traits is affected by the abiotic environment. We tested the hypothesis that abiotic environment governs fruit morphology and chemistry. We studied fruit morphology and analyzed the chemical content of the pulp of the fleshy-fruited desert shrub Ochradenus baccatus in its natural habitat and related these fruit traits to water availability and soil nutrients using Redundancy Analysis (RDA). We found that soil abiotic conditions such as short and long-term water availability and nutrients concentration affected fruit and seed size, pulp:seed ratio and pulp nutritional content (carbohydrates, fat, protein and glucosinolates). These results demonstrated for the first time a linkage between fleshy fruit traits and abiotic conditions in the plants' microhabitat. We suggest that the abiotic environment plays a more important role in shaping fruit traits than has been proposed before. Thus, the abiotic environment may determine plant fitness through its effect on fruit traits and thereby on fruit choice by potential seed dispersers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the International Arid Land Consortium , Israel Science Foundation (grants no. 600/03 and 189/08 ) and U.S.-Israel National Science Foundation (grant no. 2006043 ). We are grateful to Hagar Tadmor and Ella Tsahar for their assistance in the field work, to Gidi Ne'eman for his advices through the research, and also to Batia and the crew of Newe-Ya'ar field laboratory. The Gls analysis was done thank to the great help of Michael Reichelt and Jonathan Gershenzon, with the support of the Minerva Short-Term Research Grant.


  • Fleshy fruit
  • Fruit chemistry
  • Fruit morphology
  • Ochradenus baccatus
  • Soil nutrients
  • Water availability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Could abiotic environment shape fleshy fruit traits? A field study of the desert shrub Ochradenus baccatus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this