Non-structural carbohydrate dynamics associated with drought-induced die-off in woody species of a shrubland community

Lloret F., Sapes G., Rosas T., Galiano L., Saura-Mas S., Sala A., Martínez-Vilalta J. (2018) Non-structural carbohydrate dynamics associated with drought-induced die-off in woody species of a shrubland community. Annals of Botany. 121: 1383-1396.
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Doi: 10.1093/aob/mcy039

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Background and Aims The relationship between plant carbon economy and drought responses of co-occurring woody species can be assessed by comparing carbohydrate (C) dynamics following drought and rain periods, relating these dynamics to species' functional traits. We studied nine woody species coexisting in a continental Mediterranean shrubland that experienced severe drought effects followed by rain. Methods We measured total non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) and soluble sugars (SS) in roots and stems during drought and after an autumn rain pulse in plants exhibiting leaf loss and in undefoliated ones. We explored whether their dynamics were related to foliage recovery and functional traits (height [H], specific leaf area [SLA], wood density [WD]). Key Results During drought, NSC concentrations were overall lower in stems and roots of plants experiencing leaf loss, while SS decreases were smaller. Roots had higher NSC concentrations than stems. After the rain, NSC concentrations continued to decrease, while SS increased. Green foliage recovered after rain, particularly in plants previously experiencing higher leaf loss, independently of NSC concentrations during drought. Species with lower WD tended to have more SS during drought and lower SS increases after rain. In low-WD species, plants with severe leaf loss had lower NSC relative to undefoliated ones. No significant relationship was found between H or SLA and C content or dynamics. Conclusions Our community-level study reveals that, while responses were species-specific, C stocks overall diminished in plants affected by prolonged drought and did not increase after a pulse of seasonal rain. Dynamics were faster for SS than NSC. We found limited depletion of SS, consistent with their role in basal metabolic, transport and signalling functions. In a scenario of increased drought under climate change, NSC stocks in woody plants are expected to decrease differentially in coexisting species, with potential implications for their adaptive abilities and community dynamics. © The Author(s) 2018.

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Non-structural carbohydrates in woody plants compared among laboratories

Quentin A.G., Pinkard E.A., Ryan M.G., Tissue D.T., Baggett L.S., Adams H.D., Maillard P., Marchand J., Landhäusser S.M., Lacointe A., Gibon Y., Anderegg W.R.L., Asao S., Atkin O.K., Bonhomme M., Claye C., Chow P.S., Clément-Vidal A., Davies N.W., Dickman L.T., Dumbur R., Ellsworth D.S., Falk K., Galiano L., Grünzweig J.M., Hartmann H., Hoch G., Hood S., Jones J.E., Koike T., Kuhlmann I., Lloret F., Maestro M., Mansfield S.D., Martínez-Vilalta J., Maucourt M., McDowell N.G., Moing A., Muller B., Nebauer S.G., Niinemets U., Palacio S., Piper F., Raveh E., Richter A., Rolland G., Rosas T., Joanis B.S., Sala A., Smith R.A., Sterck F., Stinziano J.R., Tobias M., Unda F., Watanabe M., Way D.A., Weerasinghe L.K., Wild B., Wiley E., Woodruff D.R. (2015) Non-structural carbohydrates in woody plants compared among laboratories. Tree Physiology. 35: 1146-1165.
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Doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpv073

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Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in plant tissue are frequently quantified to make inferences about plant responses to environmental conditions. Laboratories publishing estimates of NSC of woody plants use many different methods to evaluate NSC. We asked whether NSC estimates in the recent literature could be quantitatively compared among studies. We also asked whether any differences among laboratories were related to the extraction and quantification methods used to determine starch and sugar concentrations. These questions were addressed by sending sub-samples collected from five woody plant tissues, which varied in NSC content and chemical composition, to 29 laboratories. Each laboratory analyzed the samples with their laboratory-specific protocols, based on recent publications, to determine concentrations of soluble sugars, starch and their sum, total NSC. Laboratory estimates differed substantially for all samples. For example, estimates for Eucalyptus globulus leaves (EGL) varied from 23 to 116 (mean = 56) mg g-1 for soluble sugars, 6-533 (mean = 94) mg g-1 for starch and 53-649 (mean = 153) mg g-1 for total NSC. Mixed model analysis of variance showed that much of the variability among laboratories was unrelated to the categories we used for extraction and quantification methods (method category R2 = 0.05-0.12 for soluble sugars, 0.10-0.33 for starch and 0.01-0.09 for total NSC). For EGL, the difference between the highest and lowest least squares means for categories in the mixed model analysis was 33 mg g-1 for total NSC, compared with the range of laboratory estimates of 596 mg g-1. Laboratories were reasonably consistent in their ranks of estimates among tissues for starch (r = 0.41-0.91), but less so for total NSC (r = 0.45-0.84) and soluble sugars (r = 0.11-0.83). Our results show that NSC estimates for woody plant tissues cannot be compared among laboratories. The relative changes in NSC between treatments measured within a laboratory may be comparable within and between laboratories, especially for starch. To obtain comparable NSC estimates, we suggest that users can either adopt the reference method given in this publication, or report estimates for a portion of samples using the reference method, and report estimates for a standard reference material. Researchers interested in NSC estimates should work to identify and adopt standard methods. © The Author 2015.

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