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Tree Physiol. 2007 Mar;27(3):455-62.

Physiological and ecological implications of adaptive reiteration as a mechanism for crown maintenance and longevity.

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  • 1Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kobe University, Kobe 657-8501, Japan.


Reiteration is the process whereby architectural units are replicated within a tree. Both immediate (from apical buds) and delayed (from suppressed or adventitious buds) reiteration can be seen in many tree species where architectural units ranging from clusters of shoots to entire branches and stems are replicated. In large old trees and suppressed trees, delayed reiteration occurs without an obvious external stimulus such as defoliation or traumatic loss of the branch apex. This suggests that, in trees that are growth-limited, reiteration is an adaptive mechanism for crown maintenance. We discuss theories about the aging process and how delayed adaptive reiteration may help maintain crown productivity and increase longevity. These include: (1) reducing the respiration/photosynthesis ratio; (2) increasing hydraulic conductance to newly developing foliage; (3) reducing nutrient loss from the tree; and (4) rejuvenating the apical meristem. The ability to reiterate various architectural units may contribute to increasing lifetime reproductive output by prolonging tree longevity. Further studies on the physiological and ecological implications of reiteration are needed to understand its adaptive significance in the life history of trees.

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