J. Bloemen, L. Overlaet-Michiels, K. Steppe
Within trees, it is known that a part of the respired CO2 is assimilated in chlorophyll-containing stem and branch tissues. However, the role of this woody tissue photosynthesis in tree functioning remains unclear, in particular under drought stress conditions. In this study, stem diameter and leaf photosynthesis were measured for one-year-old cutting-derived plants of Populus nigra ‘Monviso’ under both well-watered and drought stress conditions. Half of the plants were subjected to a stem and branch light-exclusion treatment to prevent woody tissue photosynthesis to occur, while the other trees served as controls. Drought stress was induced in both treatments by limiting the water supply. We found that under well-watered conditions, light-exclusion resulted in reduced stem radial daily growth rate (DG) relative to DG observed for control trees. In response to drought, stem shrinkage of the light-excluded trees was more pronounced as compared to the control trees. Maximum leaf net photosynthesis (Amax) decreased more rapidly in light-excluded trees compared to the controls during drought stress. Our results are the first to report on the potentially significant role of woody tissue photosynthesis in tree drought stress tolerance. Moreover, our study implies that the impact of assimilation of respired CO2 on tree functioning extends beyond local stem processes and indicates that woody tissue photosynthesis is potentially a key factor in understanding plant responses to drought stress.
Bloemen, J., Overlaet-Michiels, L. and Steppe, K. (2013). UNDERSTANDING PLANT RESPONSES TO DROUGHT: HOW IMPORTANT IS WOODY TISSUE PHOTOSYNTHESIS? . Acta Hortic. 991, 149-155
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.991.18
woody tissue photosynthesis, tree growth, tree carbon balance, photosynthesis

Acta Horticulturae