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Tree Physiol. 2002 Dec;22(17):1201-10.

Contrasting distribution and seasonal dynamics of carbohydrate reserves in stem wood of adult ring-porous sessile oak and diffuse-porous beech trees.

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UMR Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestières Equipe Phytoécologie, INRA, F-54280 Champenoux, France.


We tested the hypothesis that broad-leaved forest species with contrasting wood anatomy and hydraulic system (ring-porous versus diffuse-porous) also differ in distribution and seasonal dynamics of carbohydrate reserves in stem wood. Total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) reserves (starch and sugars) were measured enzymatically in the 10 youngest stem xylem rings of adult oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) and beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) trees during an annual cycle. Radial distribution of carbohydrates was investigated according to ring age. On all dates, oak trees had twofold higher TNC concentration than beech trees (41 versus 23 mg g(DM)(-1)), with starch accounting for the high TNC concentration in oak. Seasonal dynamics of TNC concentration were significantly (P < 0.05) more pronounced in oak (20-64 mg TNC g(DM)(-1)) than in beech (17-34 mg TNC g(DM)(-1)). A marked decrease in TNC concentration was observed in oak trees during bud burst and early wood growth, whereas seasonal fluctuations in TNC concentrations in beech trees were small. The radial distribution of TNC based on ring age differed between species: TNC was restricted to the sapwood rings in oak, whereas in beech, it was distributed throughout the wood from the outermost sapwood ring to the pith. Although the high TNC concentrations in the outermost rings accounted for most of the observed seasonal pattern, all of the 10 youngest xylem rings analyzed participated in the seasonal dynamics of TNC in beech trees. The innermost sapwood rings of oak trees had low TNC concentrations. Stem growth and accumulation of carbon reserves occurred concomitantly during the first part of the season, when there was no soil water deficit. When soil water content was depleted, stem growth ceased in both species, whereas TNC accumulation was negligibly affected and continued until leaf fall. The contrasting dynamics and distribution of carbohydrate reserves in oak and beech are discussed with reference to differences in phenology, early spring growth and hydraulic properties between ring-porous trees and diffuse-porous trees.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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