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Tree Physiol. 2003 Oct;23(14):969-76.

Rapid temperature acclimation of leaf respiration rates in Quercus alba and Quercus rubra.

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  • 1Department of Forest Resources, 115 Green Hall, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


We conducted controlled (chamber) and natural (field) environment experiments on the acclimation of respiration in Quercus alba L. and Quercus rubra L. Three-year-old Louisiana, Indiana and Wisconsin populations of Q. alba were placed in growth chambers and exposed to alternating 5-week periods of cool (20 degrees C mean) and warm (26 degrees C mean) temperatures. We measured respiration rates on fully expanded leaves immediately before and approximately every 2 days after a switch in mean temperature. In a second chamber experiment, 3-year-old potted Q. alba seedlings were exposed to alternating warm (26 degrees C mean) and cool (16 degrees C mean) temperatures at 4-day intervals. Leaf dark respiration rates were measured on days 2, 3 and 4 after each change in temperature. In a third, field-based study, we measured leaf respiration rates in the same three sources of Q. alba and in Arkansas, Indiana and Minnesota sources of Q. rubra before and after a natural 16 degrees C change in mean daily ambient temperature. We observed rapid, significant and similar acclimation of leaf respiration rates in all populations of Q. alba and Q. rubra. Cold-origin populations were no more plastic in their acclimation responses than populations from warmer sites. All geographic sources showed lower respiration rates when measured at 24 degrees C after exposure to higher mean temperatures. Respiration rates decreased 13% with a 6 degrees C increase in mean temperature in the first chamber study, and almost 40% with a 10 degrees C increase in temperature in the second chamber study. Acclimation was rapid in all three studies, occurring after 2 days of exposure to changed temperature regimes. Acclimation was reversible when changes in ambient temperature occurred at 4-day intervals. Respiration response functions, ln(R) = ln(beta0) + beta1T, were statistically different among treatments (cool versus warm, first chamber study) and among sources in a pooled comparison. Pair-wise comparisons indicated statistically significant (P<0.05) differences in cool- versus warm-measured temperature/respiration response functions for Indiana and Wisconsin sources of Q. alba. Log-transformed base respiration rates were significantly lower during periods of higher mean temperatures. Indiana Q. alba showed a significantly higher beta1 when plants were grown at 16 degrees C than when grown at 26 degrees C. Acclimation in Q. alba was unaccompanied by changes in leaf nitrogen concentration, but was associated with a change in leaf total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration. Total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration was slightly, but statistically, lower (13.6 versus 12%, P<0.05) after a 10 degrees C increase in temperature.

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