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Tree Physiol. 2013 Oct;33(10):1076-83. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpt088. Epub 2013 Nov 1.

Seasonal dynamics of mobile carbohydrate pools in phloem and xylem of two alpine timberline conifers.

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  • 1Institute of Botany, University Innsbruck, Sternwartestra├če 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


Recent studies on non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) reserves in trees focused on xylem NSC reserves, while still little is known about changes in phloem carbohydrate pools, where NSC charging might be significantly different. To gain insight on NSC dynamics in xylem and phloem, we monitored NSC concentrations in stems and roots of Pinus cembra (L.) and Larix decidua (Mill.) growing at the alpine timberline throughout 2011. Species-specific differences affected tree phenology and carbon allocation during the course of the year. After a delayed start in spring, NSC concentrations in L. decidua were significantly higher in all sampled tissues from August until the end of growing season. In both species, NSC concentrations were five to seven times higher in phloem than that in xylem. However, significant correlations between xylem and phloem starch content found for both species indicate a close linkage between long-term carbon reserves in both tissues. In L. decidua also, free sugar concentrations in xylem and phloem were significantly correlated throughout the year, while a lack of correlation between xylem and phloem free sugar pools in P. cembra indicate a decline of phloem soluble carbohydrate pools during periods of high sink demand.


Central Alps; Larix decidua; Pinus cembra; non-structural carbohydrates; storage

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