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J Exp Bot. 2005 Oct;56(420):2637-49. Epub 2005 Aug 23.

Storage versus substrate limitation to bole respiratory potential in two coniferous tree species of contrasting sapwood width.

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Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5752, USA.


Two coniferous tree species of contrasting sapwood width (Pinus ponderosa L., ponderosa pine and Pseudotsuga menziesii Mirb., Douglas-fir) were compared to determine whether bole respiratory potential was correlated with available storage space in ray parenchyma cells and/or respiratory substrate concentration of tissues (total nitrogen content, N; and total non-structural carbohydrate content, TNC). An increment core-based, laboratory method under controlled temperature was used to measure tissue-level respiration (termed respiratory potential) from multiple positions in mature boles (>100-years-old). The most significant tissue-level differences that occurred were that N and TNC were two to six times higher for inner bark than sapwood, TNC was about two times higher in ponderosa pine than Douglas-fir and there was significant seasonal variation in TNC. Ray cell abundance was not correlated with sapwood respiratory potential, whereas N and TNC often were, implying that respiratory potential tended to be more limited by substrate than storage space. When scaled from cores to whole boles (excluding branches), potential net CO2 efflux correlated positively with live bole volume (inner bark plus sapwood), live bole ray volume, N mass, and TNC mass (adjusted R2 > or =0.4). This relationship did not differ between species for N mass, but did for live bole volume, live bole ray volume, and TNC mass. Therefore, N mass appeared to be a good predictor of bole respiratory potential. The differences in net CO2 efflux between the species were largely explained by the species' relative amounts of whole-bole storage space or substrate mass. For example, ponderosa pine's inner bark was thinner than Douglas-fir's, which had the greater concentration of ray cells and TNC compared with the sapwood. This resulted in ponderosa pine boles having 30-60% less ray volume and 10-30% less TNC mass, and caused ponderosa pine net CO2 efflux/ray volume and net CO2 efflux/TNC mass to be 20-50% higher than Douglas-fir. In addition, because inner bark respiratory potential was 2-25 times higher than that of sapwood, ponderosa pine's thinner inner bark and deeper sapwood (relative to Douglas-fir) caused its bole net CO2 efflux/live bole volume to be 20-25% lower than that of similarly-sized Douglas-fir trees.

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