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Acorn production is linked to secondary growth but not to declining carbohydrate concentrations in current-year shoots of two oak species

AuthorsAlla, A. Q. ; Camarero, Jesús Julio ; Maestro Martínez, Melchor ; Montserrat-Martí, Gabriel
Issue Date2012
CitationTrees - Structure and Function 26: 841- 850 (2012)
AbstractIn trees, reproduction constitutes an important resource investment which may compete with growth for resources. However, detailed analyses on how growth and fruit production interact at the shoot level are scarce. Primary canopy growth depends on the development of current-year shoots and their secondary growth might also influence the number and size of fruits supported by them. We hypothesise that an enhanced thickening of current-year shoots is linked positively to acorn production in oaks. We analysed the effect of acorn production on shoot growth of two co-occurring Mediterranean oak species with contrasting leaf habit (Quercus ilex, Quercus faginea). Length and cross-sectional area of current-year shoots, apical bud mass, number of leaves and acorns, xylem and conductive area, number of vessels of acorn-bearing and non-bearing shoots were measured in summer and autumn. Nitrogen and carbohydrates analyses were also performed in stems and leaves of both shoot types. Stem cross-sectional area increased in acorn-bearing shoots when compared with non-bearing shoots for both species and such surplus secondary growth was observed since summer. In bearing shoots, the total transversal area occupied by vessels decreased significantly from basal to apical positions along the stem as did the xylem area and the number of vessels. Leaves of bearing shoots showed lower nitrogen concentration than those of non-bearing shoots. Carbohydrate concentrations did not differ in stems and leaves as a function of the presence of acorns. Such results suggest that carbohydrates may preferentially be allocated towards reproductive shoots, possibly through enhanced secondary growth, satisfying all their carbon demands for growth and reproduction. Our findings indicate that acorn production in the two studied oaks depends on shoot secondary growth. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00468-011-0658-3
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s00468-011-0658-3
issn: 0931-1890
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