We determined the temporal dynamics of cambial activity and xylem cell differentiation of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) within a dry inner Alpine valley (750 m asl, Tyrol, Austria), where radial growth is strongly limited by drought in spring. Repeated micro-sampling of the developing tree ring of mature trees was carried out during 2 contrasting years at two study plots that differ in soil water availability (xeric and dry-mesic site).
In 2007, when air temperature at the beginning of the growing season in April exceeded the long-term mean by 6.4 °C, cambial cell division started in early April at both study plots. A delayed onset of cambial activity of c. 2 wk was found in 2008, when average climate conditions prevailed in spring, indicating that resumption of cambial cell division after winter dormancy is temperature-controlled. Cambial cell division consistently ended about the end of June/early July in both study years. Radial enlargement of tracheids started almost 3 wk earlier in 2007 compared with 2008 at both study plots. At the xeric site, the maximum rate of tracheid production in 2007 and 2008 was reached in early and mid-May, respectively, and c. 2 wk later, at the dry-mesic site. Since in both study years, more favorable growing conditions (i.e., an increase in soil water content) were recorded during summer, we suggest a strong sink competition for carbohydrates to mycorrhizal root and shoot growth. Wood formation stopped c. 4 wk earlier at the xeric compared with the dry-mesic site in both years, indicating a strong influence of drought stress on cell differentiation. This is supported by radial widths of earlywood cells, which were found to be significantly narrower at the xeric than at the dry-mesic site (P < 0.05).
Repeated cellular analyses during the two growing seasons revealed that, although spatial variability in the dynamics and duration of cell differentiation processes in Pinus sylvestris exposed to drought is strongly influenced by water availability, the onset of cambial activity and cell differentiation is controlled by temperature.
Cambium; dry inner Alpine valley; intra-annual growth; Scots pine; tracheid production; xylogenesis
Within a dry inner Alpine valley in the Eastern Central Alps (750 m a.s.l., Tyrol, Austria) the influence of climate variables (precipitation, air humidity, temperature) and soil water content on intra-annual dynamics of tree-ring development was determined in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) at two sites differing in soil water availability (xeric and dry-mesic site). Radial stem development was continuously followed during 2007 and 2008 by band dendrometers and repeated micro-sampling of the developing tree rings of mature trees. Daily and seasonal fluctuations of the stem radius, which reached almost half of total annual increment, primarily reflected changes in tree water status and masked radial stem growth especially during drought periods in spring. However, temporal dynamics of intra-annual radial growth determined by both methods were found to be quite similar, when onset of radial growth in dendrometer traces was defined by the occurrence of first enlarging xylem cells. Radial increments during the growing period, which lasted from early April through early August showed statistically significant relationships with precipitation (Kendall τ = 0.234, p < 0.01, and τ = 0.184, p < 0.05, at the xeric and dry-mesic site, respectively) and relative air humidity (Pearson r = 0.290, p < 0.05, and r = 0.306, p < 0.05 at the xeric and dry-mesic site, respectively). Soil water content and air temperature had no influence on radial stem increment. Culmination of radial stem growth was detected at both study plots around mid-May, prior to occurrence of more favourable climatic conditions, i.e. an increase in precipitation during summer. We suggest that the early decrease in radial growth rate is due to a high belowground demand for carbohydrates to ensure adequate resource acquisition on the drought prone substrate.
Dendrometer; Drought; Dry inner Alpine valley; Pinus sylvestris; Radial growth; Xylem cell analysis
The physiological mechanisms leading to Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) decline in the dry inner Alpine valleys are still unknown. Testing the carbon starvation hypothesis, we analysed the seasonal course of mobile carbohydrate pools (NSC) of Scots pine growing at a xeric and a dry-mesic site within an inner Alpine dry valley (750 m a.s.l., Tyrol, Austria) during the year 2009, which was characterized by exceptional soil dryness. Although, soil moisture content dropped to c. 10% at both sites during the growing season, NSC concentrations were rising in all tissues (branch, stem, root) till end of July, except in needles where maxima were reached around bud break. NSC concentrations were not significantly different in the analysed tissues at the xeric and the dry-mesic site. At the dry-mesic site NSC concentrations in the above ground tree biomass were significantly higher during the period of radial growth. An accumulation of NSC in roots at the end of July indicates a change in carbon allocation after an early cessation in above ground growth, possibly due to elevated below ground carbon demand. In conclusion our results revealed that extensive soil dryness during the growing season did not lead to carbon depletion. However, even though C-reserves were not exhausted, a sequestration of carbohydrate pools during drought periods might lead to deficits in carbon supply that weaken tree vigour and drive tree mortality.
non-structural carbohydrates; Scots pine; drought; dry inner Alpine valley; carbon starvation; tree mortality
It has been frequently stressed that at distributional boundaries, like at the Alpine timberline and within dry inner Alpine environments, tree growth will be affected first by changing climate conditions. Climate in 2007 was characterized by the occurrence of exceptionally mild temperatures in spring (3.4 and 2.7 °C above long-term mean (LTM) at timberline and the valley sites, respectively) with an almost continuous drought period recorded in April and slightly warmer than average temperatures throughout summer (1.3 °C above LTM at both sites).
We compared temporal dynamics of cambial activity and xylem cell development in Pinus cembra at the Alpine timberline (1950 m a.s.l.) and Pinus sylvestris at a xeric inner Alpine site (750 m a.s.l.) by repeated cellular analyses of micro-cores (n = 5 trees/site). While onset of wood formation in P. sylvestris and P. cembra differed by about two weeks (12 and 27 April, respectively), maximum daily growth rates peaked on 6 May at the valley site and on 23 June at timberline. At both sites maximum tracheid production was reached prior to occurrence of more favourable climatic conditions during summer, i.e. an increase in precipitation and temperature. Xylem formation ended on 31 August and 28 October at the xeric site and at timberline, respectively.
This study demonstrates the plasticity of tree-ring formation along an altitudinal transect in response to water availability and temperature. Whether early achievement of maximum growth rates is an adaptation to cope with extreme environmental conditions prevailing at limits of tree growth needs to be analysed more closely by taking belowground carbon allocation into account.
Alpine timberline; cambium; dry inner Alpine valley; intra-annual growth; Scots pine; Stone pine; wood anatomy; xylogenesis
We applied dendroclimatological techniques to determine long-term stationarity of climate-growth relationships and recent growth trends of three widespread coniferous tree species of the central Austrian Alps, which grow intermixed at dry-mesic sites within a dry inner Alpine environment (750 m asl). Time series of annual increments were developed from > 120 mature trees of Picea abies, Larix decidua and Pinus sylvestris. Calculation of response functions for the period 1911 – 2009 revealed significant differences among species in response to climate variables. While precipitation in May – June favoured radial growth of Picea abies and Larix decidua, Pinus sylvestris growth mainly depended on April – May precipitation. P. abies growth was most sensitive to May – June temperature (inverse relationship). Moving response function coefficients indicated increasing drought sensitivity of all species in recent decades, which is related to a decline in soil moisture availability due to increasing stand density and tree size and higher evapotranspiration rates in a warmer climate. While recent trend in basal area increment (BAI) of L. decidua distinctly declined implying high vulnerability to drought stress, moderately shade-tolerant P. abies showed steadily increasing BAI and quite constant BAI was maintained in drought adapted P. sylvestris, although at lowest level of all species. We conclude that synergistic effects of stand dynamics and climate warming increased drought sensitivity, which changed competitive strength of co-occurring conifers due to differences in inherent adaptive capacity.
Basal area increment; Dendroclimatology; Inner Alpine valley; Radial growth; Moving response function; Tree-ring analysis
Although growth limitation of trees at Alpine and high-latitude timberlines by prevailing summer temperature is well established, loss of thermal response of radial tree growth during last decades has repeatedly been addressed. We examined long-term variability of climate-growth relationships in ring width chronologies of Stone pine (Pinus cembra L.) by means of moving response functions (MRF). The study area is situated in the timberline ecotone (c. 2000 – 2200 m a.s.l.) on Mt. Patscherkofel (Tyrol, Austria). Five site chronologies were developed within the ecotone with constant sample depth (≥ 19 trees) throughout most of the time period analysed. MRF calculated for the period 1866-1999 and 1901-1999 for c. 200 and c. 100 yr old stands, respectively, revealed that mean July temperature is the major and long-term stable driving force of Pinus cembra radial growth within the timberline ecotone. However, since the mid 1980s, radial growth in timberline and tree line chronologies strikingly diverges from the July temperature trend. This is probably a result of extreme climate events (e.g. low winter precipitation, late frost) and/or increasing drought stress on cambial activity. The latter assumption is supported by a < 10 % increase in annual increments of c. 50 yr old trees at the timberline and at the tree line in 2003 compared to 2002, when extraordinary hot and dry conditions prevailed during summer. Furthermore, especially during the second half of the 20th century, influence of climate variables on radial growth show abrupt fluctuations, which might also be a consequence of climate warming on tree physiology.
Climate warming; moving response function; Pinus cembra; temperature sensitivity; tree ring
Understanding the survival capacity of forest trees to periods of severe water stress could improve knowledge of the adaptive potential of different species under future climatic scenarios. In long lived organisms, like forest trees, the combination of induced osmotic stress treatments and field testing can elucidate the role of drought tolerance during the early stages of establishment, the most critical in the life of the species. We performed a Polyethylene glycol-osmotic induced stress experiment and evaluated two common garden experiments (xeric and mesic sites) to test for survival and growth of a wide range clonal collection of Maritime pine. This study demonstrates the importance of additive vs non additive effects for drought tolerance traits in Pinus pinaster, and shows differences in parameters determining the adaptive trajectories of populations and family and clones within populations. The results show that osmotic adjustment plays an important role in population variation, while biomass allocation and hydric content greatly influence survival at population level. Survival in the induced osmotic stress experiment presented significant correlations with survival in the xeric site, and height growth at the mesic site, at population level, indicating constraints of adaptation for those traits, while at the within population level no significant correlation existed. These results demonstrate that population differentiation and within population genetic variation for drought tolerance follow different patterns.
Global change triggers shifts in forest composition, with warming and aridification being particularly threatening for the populations located at the rear edge of the species distributions. This is the case of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in the Mediterranean Basin where uncertainties in relation to its dynamics under these changing scenarios are still high. We analysed the relative effect of climate on the recruitment patterns of Scots pine and its interactions with local biotic and abiotic variables at different spatial scales. Number of seedlings and saplings was surveyed, and their annual shoot growth measured in 96 plots located across altitudinal gradients in three different regions in the Iberian Peninsula. We found a significant influence of climate on demography and performance of recruits, with a non-linear effect of temperature on the presence of juveniles, and a positive effect of precipitation on their survival. Abundance of juveniles of P. sylvestris that underwent their first summer drought was skewed towards higher altitudes than the altitudinal mean range of the conspecific adults and the optimum elevation for seedlings' emergence. At local level, light availability did not influence juveniles' density, but it enhanced their growth. Biotic interactions were found between juveniles and the herb cover (competition) and between the number of newly emerged seedlings and shrubs (facilitation). Results also highlighted the indirect effect that climate exerts over the local factors, modulating the interactions with the pre-existing vegetation that were more evident at more stressful sites. This multiscale approach improves our understanding of the dynamics of these marginal populations and some management criteria can be inferred to boost their conservation under the current global warming.
As part of a program to select maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) genotypes for resistance to low winter temperatures, we examined variation in photosystem II activity by chlorophyll fluorescence. Populations and families within populations from contrasting climates were tested during two consecutive winters through two progeny trials, one located at a continental and xeric site and one at a mesic site with Atlantic influence. We also obtained the LT50, or the temperature that causes 50% damage, by controlled freezing and the subsequent analysis of chlorophyll fluorescence in needles and stems that were collected from populations at the continental trial site.
P. pinaster showed sensitivity to winter stress at the continental site, during the colder winter. The combination of low temperatures, high solar irradiation and low precipitation caused sustained decreases in maximal photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm), quantum yield of non-cyclic electron transport (ΦPSII) and photochemical quenching (qP). The variation in photochemical parameters was larger among families than among populations, and population differences appeared only under the harshest conditions at the continental site. As expected, the environmental effects (winter and site) on the photochemical parameters were much larger than the genotypic effects (population or family). LT50 was closely related to the minimum winter temperatures of the population's range. The dark-adapted Fv/Fm ratio discriminated clearly between interior and coastal populations.
In conclusion, variations in Fv/Fm, ΦPSII, qP and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) in response to winter stress were primarily due to the differences between the winter conditions and the sites and secondarily due to the differences among families and their interactions with the environment. Populations from continental climates showed higher frost tolerance (LT50) than coastal populations that typically experience mild winters. Therefore, LT50, as estimated by Fv/Fm, is a reliable indicator of frost tolerance among P. pinaster populations.
Scots pine recruitment is likely to change in response to climate variations. A recruitment reduction is expected at the southern edge and an expansion through northern range. However, local adaptations to drought of southern populations might modulate this declining trend
Ongoing changes in global climate are having a significant impact on the distribution of plant species, with effects particularly evident at range limits. We assessed the capacity of Pinus sylvestris L. populations at northernmost and southernmost limits of the distribution to cope with projected changes in climate. We investigated responses including seed germination and early seedling growth and survival, using seeds from northernmost (Kevo, Finland) and southernmost (Granada, Spain) populations. Seeds were grown under current climate conditions in each area and under temperatures increased by 5 °C, with changes in precipitation of +30% or –30% with reference to current values at northern and southern limits, respectively, in a fully factorial controlled-conditions experimental design. Increased temperatures reduced germination time and enhanced biomass gain at both range edges but reduced survival at the southern range edge. Higher precipitation also increased survival and biomass but only under a southern climate. Seeds from the southern origin emerged faster, produced bigger seedlings, allocated higher biomass to roots, and survived better than northern ones. These results indicate that recruitment will be reduced at the southernmost range of the species, whereas it will be enhanced at the northern limit, and that the southern seed sources are better adapted to survive under drier conditions. However, future climate will impose a trade-off between seedling growth and survival probabilities. At the southern range edge, higher growth may render individuals more susceptible to mortality where greater aboveground biomass results in greater water loss through evapotranspiration.
Biomass; distribution; emergence; Pinus sylvestris; precipitation; range limit; root:shoot; survival; temperature; trade-off.
Wood formation requires a continuous supply of carbohydrates for structural growth and metabolism. In the montane belt of the central Austrian Alps we monitored the temporal dynamics of xylem growth and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in stem sapwood of Pinus sylvestris L. during the growing season 2009, which was characterized by exceptional soil dryness within the study area. Soil water content dropped below 10 % at the time of maximum xylem growth end of May. Histological analyses have been used to describe cambial activity and xylem growth. Determination of NSC was performed using specific enzymatic assays revealing that total NSC ranged from 0.8 to 1.7 % dry matter throughout the year. Significant variations (P < 0.05) of the size of the NSC pool were observed during the growing season. Starch showed persistent abundance throughout the year reaching a maximum shortly before onset of late wood formation in mid-July. Seasonal dynamics of NSC and xylem growth suggest that (i) high sink activity occurred at start of the growing season in spring and during late wood formation in summer and (ii) there was no particular shortage in NSC, which caused P. sylvestris to draw upon stem reserves more heavily during drought in 2009.
The effect of temperature on pine wilt development in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) was examined in three experiments. Container-grown pines (4-6 years old) inoculated with 1,500 Bursaphelenchus xylophilus were incubated at constant temperatures in growth chamber for 8 weeks, then at a temperature range of 15-30 C in a greenhouse for 10-12 weeks. Nematode infection was greater, tree mortality was higher, and disease incubation was shorter at 32 and 30 C than at 25, 23, 18, and 11 C. Foliar symptoms developed more rapidly and uniformly at higher temperatures. Ninety-five percent of tree deaths at 32 and 30 C and 88% at 25 and 23 C occurred within the 8-week exposure to constant temperatures. Mortality at 18, 16, and 11 C occurred only after transfer to the greenhouse. Results indicate that pine wilt incidence is directly related and disease incubation period is inversely related to temperature and that high-temperature stress predisposes Scots pine to lethal infection by B. xylophilus.
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; pine; pine wilt; pinewood nematode; Pinus sylvestris; Scots pine; temperature
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is a very common tree in Polish forests, and therefore was widely used as timber. A relatively large amount of available wood allowed a long-term chronology to be built up and used as a source of information about past climate. The analysis of reconstructed indexed values of mean temperature in 51-year moving intervals allowed the recognition of the coldest periods in the years 1207–1346, 1383–1425, 1455–1482, 1533–1574, 1627–1646, and 1694–1785. The analysis of extreme wide and narrow rings forms a complementary method of examining climatic data within tree rings. The tree ring widths, early wood and late wood widths of 16 samples were assessed during the period 1581–1676. The most apparent effect is noted in the dry summer of 1616. According to previous research and our findings, temperature from February to March seems to be one of the most stable climatic factors which influenced pine growth in Poland. Correlation coefficients in the calibration and validation procedure gave promising results for temperature reconstruction from the pine chronology.
Dendrochronology; Dendroclimatology; Climate reconstruction; Scots pine
We determined the temporal dynamic of cambial activity and xylem development of stone pine (Pinus cembra L.) throughout the treeline ecotone. Repeated micro-sampling of the developing tree ring was carried out during the growing seasons 2006 and 2007 at the timberline (1950 m a.s.l.), treeline (2110 m a.s.l.) and within the krummholz belt (2180 m a.s.l.) and the influence of climate variables on intra-annual wood formation was determined.
At the beginning of both growing seasons, highest numbers of cambial and enlarging cells were observed at the treeline. Soil temperatures at time of initiation of cambial activity were c. 1.5 °C higher at treeline (open canopy) compared to timberline (closed canopy), suggesting that a threshold root-zone temperature is involved in triggering onset of above ground stem growth.
The rate of xylem cell production determined in two weekly intervals during June through August 2006-2007 was significantly correlated with air temperature (temperature sums expressed as degree-days and mean daily maximum temperature) at the timberline only. Lack of significant relationships between tracheid production and temperature variables at the treeline and within the krummholz belt support past dendroclimatological studies that more extreme environmental conditions (e.g., wind exposure, frost desiccation, late frost) increasingly control tree growth above timberline.
Results of this study revealed that spatial and temporal (i.e. year-to-year) variability in timing and dynamic of wood formation of Pinus cembra is strongly influenced by local site factors within the treeline ecotone and the dynamics of seasonal temperature variation, respectively.
Cambium; intra-annual growth; Pinus cembra; temperature; tracheid production
Woody plants native to mesic habitats tend to be more vulnerable to drought-induced cavitation than those in xeric habitats. Cavitation resistance in herbaceous plants, however, is rarely studied and whether or not annual plants in arid habitats conform to the trends observed in woody plants is unknown. This question is addressed by comparing the hydraulic properties of annual plants endemic to relatively mesic and seasonally xeric habitats in the Great Basin Desert, in both native and experimental settings. Vulnerability to cavitation between species differed as predicted when vulnerability curves of similar-sized native individuals were compared. Contrary to expectations, Helianthus anomalus from the relatively mesic dune sites, on average, exhibited higher native embolism, lower soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance (kL) and lower transpiration rates, than its xeric analogue, H. deserticola. In transplant gardens, H. anomalus’ vulnerability to cavitation was unaffected by transplant location or watering treatment. In H. deserticola, however, vulnerability to cavitation varied significantly in response to watering in transplant gardens and varied as a function of stem water potential (Ψstem). H. deserticola largely avoided cavitation through its higher water status and generally more resistant xylem, traits consistent with a short life cycle and typical drought-escape strategy. By contrast, H. anomalus’ higher native embolism is likely to be adaptive by lowering plant conductance and transpiration rate, thus preventing the loss of root-to-soil hydraulic contact in the coarse sand dune soils. For H. anomalus this dehydration avoidance strategy is consistent with its relatively long 3–4 month life cycle and low-competition habitat. We conclude that variance of hydraulic parameters in herbaceous plants is a function of soil moisture heterogeneity and is consistent with the notion that trait plasticity to fine-grained environmental variation can be adaptive.
Adaptation; arid habitats; safety margin; sand dunes; sunflowers; water potential; xylem cavitation
Cavitation decreases the hydraulic conductance of the xylem and has, therefore, detrimental effects on plant water balance. However, cavitation is also hypothesized to relieve water stress temporarily by releasing water from embolizing conduits to the transpiration stream. Stomatal closure in response to decreasing water potentials in order to avoid excessive cavitation has been well documented in numerous previous studies. However, it has remained unclear whether the stomata sense cavitation events themselves or whether they act in response to a decrease in leaf water potential to a level at which cavitation is initiated. The effects of massive cavitation on leaf water potential, transpiration, and stomatal behaviour were studied by feeding a surfactant into the transpiration stream of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings. The stomatal response to cavitation in connection with the capacitive effect was also studied. A major transient increase in leaf water potential was found due to cavitation in the seedlings. As cavitation was induced by lowering the surface tension, the two mechanisms could be uncoupled, as the usual relation between xylem water potential and the onset of cavitation did not hold. Our results indicate that the seedlings responded more to leaf water potential and less to cavitation itself, as stomatal closure was insufficient to prevent the seedlings from being driven to ‘run-away’ cavitation in a manner of hours.
Cavitation; leaf gas exchange; stomatal control; water potential; xylem transport
Background and Aims
Survival of many herbaceous species in Mediterranean habitats during the dry, hot summer depends on the induction of summer dormancy by changes in environmental conditions during the transition between the winter (growth) season to the summer (resting) season, i.e. longer days, increasing temperature and drought. In Poa bulbosa, a perennial geophytic grass, summer dormancy is induced by long days, and the induction is enhanced by high temperature. Here the induction of summer dormancy in a Mediterranean perennial grass by water deficit under non-inductive photoperiodic conditions is reported for the first time.
Plants grown under 22/16 °C and non-inductive short-day (9 h, SD) were subjected to water deficit (WD), applied as cycles of reduced irrigation, or sprayed with ABA solutions. They were compared with plants in which dormancy was induced by transfer from SD to inductive long-day (16 h, LD). Responses of two contrasting ecotypes, from arid and mesic habitats were compared. Dormancy relaxation in bulbs from these ecotypes and treatments was studied by comparing sprouting capacity in a wet substrate at 10 °C of freshly harvested bulbs to that of dry-stored bulbs at 40 °C. Endogenous ABA in the bulbs was determined by monoclonal immunoassay analysis.
Dormancy was induced by WD and by ABA application in plants growing under non-inductive SD. Dormancy induction by WD was associated with increased levels of ABA. Bulbs were initially deeply dormant and their sprouting capacity was very low, as in plants in which dormancy was induced by LD. Dormancy was released after 2 months dry storage at 40 °C in all treatments. ABA levels were not affected by dormancy relaxation.
Summer dormancy in P. bulbosa can be induced by two alternative and probably additive pathways: (1) photoperiodic induction by long-days, and (2) water deficit. Increased levels of endogenous ABA are involved in both pathways.
Poa bulbosa; abscisic acid; water deficit; ecotype; geophyte; perennial grass; summer dormancy
The plastic response of fine roots to a changing environment is suggested to affect the growth and form of a plant. Here we show that the plasticity of fine root growth may increase plant productivity based on an experiment using young seedlings (14-week old) of loblolly pine. We use two contrasting pine ecotypes, "mesic" and "xeric", to investigate the adaptive significance of such a plastic response.
The partitioning of biomass to fine roots is observed to reduce with increased nutrient availability. For the "mesic" ecotype, increased stem biomass as a consequence of more nutrients may be primarily due to reduced fine-root biomass partitioning. For the "xeric" ecotype, the favorable influence of the plasticity of fine root growth on stem growth results from increased allocation of biomass to foliage and decreased allocation to fine roots. An evolutionary genetic analysis indicates that the plasticity of fine root growth is inducible, whereas the plasticity of foliage is constitutive.
Results promise to enhance a fundamental understanding of evolutionary changes of tree architecture under domestication and to design sound silvicultural and breeding measures for improving plant productivity.
Water in the xylem, the water transport system of plants, is vulnerable to freezing and cavitation, i.e. to phase change from liquid to ice or gaseous phase. The former is a threat in cold and the latter in dry environmental conditions. Here we show that a small xylem conduit diameter, which has previously been shown to be associated with lower cavitation pressure thus making a plant more drought resistant, is also associated with a decrease in the temperature required for ice nucleation in the xylem. Thus the susceptibility of freezing and cavitation are linked together in the xylem of plants. We explain this linkage by the regulation of the sizes of the nuclei catalysing freezing and drought cavitation. Our results offer better understanding of the similarities of adaption of plants to cold and drought stress, and offer new insights into the ability of plants to adapt to the changing environment.
Within the alpine treeline ecotone tree growth is increasingly restricted by extreme climate conditions. Although intra-annual stem growth recorded by dendrometers can be linked to climate, stem diameter increments in slow-growing subalpine trees are masked by changes in tree water status.We tested the hypothesis that intra-annual radial stem growth in Pinus cembra is influenced by different climate variables along the treeline ecotone in the Austrian Alps. Dendrometer traces were compared with dynamics of xylem cell development to date onset of cambial activity and radial stem growth in spring.Daily fluctuations in stem radius reflected changes in tree water status throughout the treeline ecotone. Extracted daily radial increments were significantly correlated with air temperature at the timberline and treeline only, where budburst, cambial activity and enlargement of first tracheids also occurred quite similarly. A close relationship was detected between radial increment and number of enlarging tracheids throughout the treeline ecotone.We conclude that (i) the relationship between climate and radial stem growth within the treeline ecotone is dependent on a close coupling to atmospheric climate conditions and (ii) initiation of cambial activity and radial growth in spring can be distinguished from stem re-hydration by histological analysis.
dendrometer; Pinus cembra; radial increment; treeline ecotone; xylem formation
The aim of this study was to understand how drought-induced tree mortality and subsequent secondary succession would affect soil bacterial taxonomic composition as well as soil organic matter (SOM) quantity and quality in a mixed Mediterranean forest where the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) population, affected by climatic drought-induced die-off, is being replaced by Holm-oaks (HO; Quercus ilex). We apply a high throughput DNA pyrosequencing technique and 13C solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (CP-MAS 13C NMR) to soils within areas of influence (defined as an surface with 2-m radius around the trunk) of different trees: healthy and affected (defoliated) pines, pines that died a decade ago and healthy HOs. Soil respiration was also measured in the same spots during a spring campaign using a static close-chamber method (soda lime). A decade after death, and before aerial colonization by the more competitive HOs have even taken place, we could not find changes in soil C pools (quantity and/or quality) associated with tree mortality and secondary succession. Unlike C pools, bacterial diversity and community structure were strongly determined by tree mortality. Convergence between the most abundant taxa of soil bacterial communities under dead pines and colonizer trees (HOs) further suggests that physical gap colonization was occurring below-ground before above-ground colonization was taken place. Significantly higher soil respiration rates under dead trees, together with higher bacterial diversity and anomalously high representation of bacteria commonly associated with copiotrophic environments (r-strategic bacteria) further gives indications of how drought-induced tree mortality and secondary succession were influencing the structure of microbial communities and the metabolic activity of soils.
Climate change; drought; ecosystem functioning; forest dieback; gap colonization; microbial diversity; nutrient cycling; pyrosequencing; tree mortality
Conifers like Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) have a complicated root system consisting of morphologically and anatomically different root types, of which the short roots have a very limited ability to elongate. Short roots have an important role in nature since they are able to establish ectomycorrhizal symbiosis, in which the growth of fungal mycelium between the epidermal cells and in the intercellular space between cortical cells leads to formation of dichotomous short roots, which may, through further splitting of the meristem, form coralloid root structures. Dichotomous short roots have been suggested to result from changes in either auxin or ethylene concentrations due to the fungal growth inside the root. NPA, the inhibitor of polar auxin transport, enhances the dichotomization of P. sylvestris short root tips similarly to the fungal growth in the root, thus confirming that auxin plays a role in short root morphogenesis. Ethylene is also known to have an important role in the regulation of root morphogenesis. In future the research dealing with the root system and ectomycorrhiza development in P. sylvestris must take into account that both auxin and ethylene are involved and that there is no contradiction in obtaining the same phenotype with both hormones. The expression analysis of PIN proteins, auxin efflux carriers, could give valuable information about the role of auxin transport in regulating the root growth and morphogenesis of coniferous root system and mycorrhiza.
auxin transport; dichotomization; ethylene; mycorrhiza; open meristem; PIN; Pinus sylvestris; short root
Many trees species form symbiotic associations with ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, which improve nutrient and water acquisition of their host. Until now it is unclear whether the species richness of ECM fungi is beneficial for tree seedling performance, be it during moist conditions or drought. We performed a pot experiment using Pinus sylvestris seedlings inoculated with four selected ECM fungi (Cenococcum geophilum, Paxillus involutus, Rhizopogon roseolus and Suillus granulatus) to investigate (i) whether these four ECM fungi, in monoculture or in species mixtures, affect growth of P. sylvestris seedlings, and (ii) whether this effect can be attributed to species number per se or to species identity. Two different watering regimes (moist vs. dry) were applied to examine the context-dependency of the results. Additionally, we assessed the activity of eight extracellular enzymes in the root tips. Shoot growth was enhanced in the presence of S. granulatus, but not by any other ECM fungal species. The positive effect of S. granulatus on shoot growth was more pronounced under moist (threefold increase) than under dry conditions (twofold increase), indicating that the investigated ECM fungi did not provide additional support during drought stress. The activity of secreted extracellular enzymes was higher in S. granulatus than in any other species. In conclusion, our findings suggest that ECM fungal species composition may affect seedling performance in terms of aboveground biomass.
The impact of industrial heavy metal pollution on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and black pine (Pinus nigra Arn.) populations was investigated. Sampled pine stands, which were located in Upper Silesia (southern Poland) in an area strongly polluted by heavy metals, consisted of resistant and sensitive trees. To evaluate the adaptation process, genetic structure and diversity was tested using isozyme analysis. Higher levels of Zn, Pb, Cd and Cu were detected in needles of sensitive trees compared with resistant ones. With respect to morphology, Scots pines were more distinctly impaired than black pines. Although black pines had lower heavy metal concentrations, levels in 1-year-old needles, other than Cu, significantly exceeded “reference plant” values (Markert 1994). In both species, resistant trees demonstrated a lower degree of genetic variation than metal-sensitive trees with respect to some enzyme loci (SHDH A, PGI, PGM, MDH C and DIA). This observation was corroborated in sensitive trees by the smaller number of identified alleles and alleles per locus, absence of private alleles and significant excess of homozygotes in relation to expected Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium values. Assuming that only resistant trees of both species survive under conditions of prolonged soil contamination, the observed genetic structure implies that remaining populations will be depleted of some alleles of unknown adaptive value to future selection pressures. Genetic changes induced by heavy metals suggest an important role for specific enzymes—FEST, SHDH A and B, GOT B and PGI—in the adaptation process. Our results may serve as a basis for selection and propagation of individuals appropriate for re-cultivation of areas chemically degraded by industrial activity.
Genetic variation; Heavy metal; Enzymes; Pinus nigra; Pinus sylvestris; Reference plant
Background and Aims
Distinguishing between, and quantifying, the different components of ecosystem C fluxes is critical in predicting the responses of ecosystem C cycling to climate change. The aims of this study were to quantify the photosynthetic and respiratory fluxes of a 50-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) ecosystem, and to distinguish respiration of branches with needles from that of stems, and that of soil.
The CO2 flux of the ecosystem was continuously measured using the eddy covariance (EC) method, and its components (respiration and photosynthesis of a branch with needles, stem and soil surface) were measured with an automated chamber system, from 2001 to 2004.
All values below are chamber based. The average temperature coefficient (Q10) of respiration was 2·7, 2·2 and 4·0, respectively, for branch (Rbran), stem (Rstem) and the soil surface (Rsoil). Respiration at a reference temperature of 15 °C (R15) was 1·27, 0·49 and 4·02 µmol CO2 m−2 ground s−1 for the three components, respectively. Over 4 years, the annual Rbran, Rstem and Rsoil ranged from 196 to 256, 56 to 83 and 439 to 598 g C m−2 ground year−1, respectively, with a 4-year average of 227, 72 and 507 g C m−2 ground year−1. Annual ecosystem respiration (Reco) was 731, 783, 909 and 751 g C m−2 ground year−1 in years 2001–2004, respectively, gross primary production (GPP) was 922, 1030, 1138 and 1001 g C m−2 ground year−1, and net ecosystem production (NEP) was 191, 247, 229 and 251 g C m−2 ground year−1. The average contribution of Rbran, Rstem and Rsoil to Reco was 29, 9 and 62 %, respectively. Overstorey photosynthesis accounted for 96 % of GPP. The average Reco/GPP ratio was 0·78. Net primary production (NPP) in the 4 years was 469, 581, 600 and 551 g C m−2 year−1, respectively, with the NPP/GPP ratio 0·54 averaged over the years.
Respiration from the soil is the dominant component of ecosystem respiration. Differences between years in Reco were due to differences in temperature during the growing season. Rsoil was more sensitive to temperature than Rbran and Rstem, and differences in Rsoil were responsible for the differences in Reco between years.
Scots pine; carbon flux; stem; branch; soil; photosynthesis; respiration; ecosystem