Resilient Leaf Physiological Response of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) to Summer Drought and Drought Release

Pflug, Ellen E. and Buchmann, Nina and Siegwolf, Rolf T. W. and Schaub, Marcus and Rigling, Andreas and Arend, Matthias. (2018) Resilient Leaf Physiological Response of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) to Summer Drought and Drought Release. FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9. p. 187.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/67903/

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Drought is a major environmental constraint to trees, causing severe stress and thus adversely affecting their functional integrity. European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is a key species in mesic forests that is commonly expected to suffer in a future climate with more intense and frequent droughts. Here, we assessed the seasonal response of leaf physiological characteristics of beech saplings to drought and drought release to investigate their potential to recover from the imposed stress and overcome previous limitations. Saplings were transplanted to model ecosystems and exposed to a simulated summer drought. Pre-dawn water potentials (psi(pd)), stomatal conductance (g(S)), intercellular CO2 concentration (c(i)), net-photosynthesis (A(N)), PSII chlorophyll fluorescence (PItot), non-structural carbohydrate concentrations (NSC; soluble sugars, starch) and carbon isotope signatures were measured in leaves throughout the growing season. Pre-dawn water potentials (psi(pd)), g(S), c(i), A(N), and PItot decreased as drought progressed, and the concentration of soluble sugars increased at the expense of starch. Carbon isotopes in soluble sugars (delta(CS)-C-13) showed a distinct increase under drought, suggesting, together with decreased ci, stomatal limitation of A(N). Drought effects on psi(pd), c(i), and NSC disappeared shortly after re-watering, while full recovery of g(S), A(N), and PItot was delayed by 1 week. The fast recovery of NSC was reflected by a rapid decay of the drought signal in delta(CS)-C-13 values, indicating a rapid turnover of assimilates and a reactivation of carbon metabolism. After recovery, the previously drought-exposed saplings showed a stimulation of A(N) and a trend toward elevated starch concentrations, which counteracted the previous drought limitations. Overall, our results suggest that the internal water relations of beech saplings and the physiological activity of leaves are restored rapidly after drought release. In the case of A(N), stimulation after drought may partially compensate for limitations on photosynthetic activity during drought. Our observations suggest high resilience of beech to drought, contradicting the general belief that beech is particularly sensitive to environmental stressors.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Physiological Plant Ecology (Kahmen)
UniBasel Contributors:Arend, Matthias
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 22:27
Deposited On:22 Apr 2020 22:27

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