Severe drought events threaten tree water transport system, productivity and survival. Woody angiosperms generally die when embolism-induced loss of hydraulic conductance (PLC) surpasses 80-90% under intense water shortage. However, the recovery capability and possible long-term carry-over effects of repeated drought events could dictate the fate of species' population under climate change scenarios. Potted saplings of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) were subjected to two drought cycles in two consecutive growing seasons, aiming to induce minimum leaf water potentials (Ψmd) of about -4 MPa, corresponding to hydraulic thresholds for survival of this species. In the first cycle, a well-irrigated (C) and a drought-stressed group (S) were formed, and, in the following summer, each group was divided in a well-irrigated and a drought-stressed one (four groups in total). The impact of the multiple drought events was assessed by measuring wood anatomical traits, biomass production, water relations, stem hydraulics and non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) content. We also investigated possible connections between stem hydraulics and carbon dynamics during the second drought event and following re-irrigation. S plants had lower Ψmd and maximum specific hydraulic conductivity (Ks) than C plants in the following growing season. Additionally, aboveground biomass production and leaf number were lower compared to C trees, resulting in lower water consumption. However, PLC was similar between groups, probably due to the production of new functional xylem in spring. The second drought event induced 85% PLC and promoted conversion of starch-to soluble sugars. Nevertheless, 1 week after re-irrigation, no embolism repair was observed and soluble sugars were reconverted to starch. The previous drought cycle did not influence the hydraulic performance during the second drought, and after re-irrigation S plants had 40% higher wood NSC content. Our data suggest that beech cannot recover from high embolism levels but multiple droughts might enhance stem NSC availability.

Close to the edge: effects of repeated severe drought on stem hydraulics and non-structural carbohydrates in European beech saplings

Tomasella, Martina
;
Nardini, Andrea;
2019-01-01

Abstract

Severe drought events threaten tree water transport system, productivity and survival. Woody angiosperms generally die when embolism-induced loss of hydraulic conductance (PLC) surpasses 80-90% under intense water shortage. However, the recovery capability and possible long-term carry-over effects of repeated drought events could dictate the fate of species' population under climate change scenarios. Potted saplings of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) were subjected to two drought cycles in two consecutive growing seasons, aiming to induce minimum leaf water potentials (Ψmd) of about -4 MPa, corresponding to hydraulic thresholds for survival of this species. In the first cycle, a well-irrigated (C) and a drought-stressed group (S) were formed, and, in the following summer, each group was divided in a well-irrigated and a drought-stressed one (four groups in total). The impact of the multiple drought events was assessed by measuring wood anatomical traits, biomass production, water relations, stem hydraulics and non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) content. We also investigated possible connections between stem hydraulics and carbon dynamics during the second drought event and following re-irrigation. S plants had lower Ψmd and maximum specific hydraulic conductivity (Ks) than C plants in the following growing season. Additionally, aboveground biomass production and leaf number were lower compared to C trees, resulting in lower water consumption. However, PLC was similar between groups, probably due to the production of new functional xylem in spring. The second drought event induced 85% PLC and promoted conversion of starch-to soluble sugars. Nevertheless, 1 week after re-irrigation, no embolism repair was observed and soluble sugars were reconverted to starch. The previous drought cycle did not influence the hydraulic performance during the second drought, and after re-irrigation S plants had 40% higher wood NSC content. Our data suggest that beech cannot recover from high embolism levels but multiple droughts might enhance stem NSC availability.
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https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article/39/5/717/5298606
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2946317
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