Leaf-to-branch scaling of C-gain in field-grown almond trees under different soil moisture regimes

Journal ar
Tree Physiology
  • Volumen: 34
  • Número: 6
  • Fecha: 01 January 2014
  • Páginas: 619-629
  • ISSN: 17584469 0829318X
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpu045
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
Branch/tree-level measurements of carbon (C)-acquisition provide an integration of the physical and biological processes driving the C gain of all individual leaves. Most research dealing with the interacting effects of high-irradiance environments and soil-induced water stress on the C-gain of fruit tree species has focused on leaf-level measurements. The C-gain of both sun-exposed leaves and branches of adult almond trees growing in a semi-arid climate was investigated to determine the respective costs of structural and biochemical/physiological protective mechanisms involved in the behaviour at branch scale. Measurements were performed on well-watered (fully irrigated, FI) and drought-stressed (deficit irrigated, DI) trees. Leaf-to-branch scaling for net CO2 assimilation was quantified by a global scaling factor (fg), defined as the product of two specific scaling factors: (i) a structural scaling factor (fs), determined under well-watered conditions, mainly involving leaf mutual shading; and (ii) a water stress scaling factor (fws,b) involving the limitations in C-acquisition due to soil water deficit. The contribution of structural mechanisms to limiting branch net C-gain was high (mean fs ¿0.33) and close to the projectedto- total leaf area ratio of almond branches (¿ = 0.31), while the contribution of water stress mechanisms was moderate (mean fws,b ¿0.85), thus supplying an fg ranging between 0.25 and 0.33 with slightly higher values for FI trees with respect to DI trees. These results suggest that the almond tree (a drought-tolerant species) has acquired mechanisms of defensive strategy (survival) mainly based on a specific branch architectural design. This strategy allows the potential for C-gain to be preserved at branch scale under a large range of soil water deficits. In other words, almond tree branches exhibit an architecture that is suboptimal for C-acquisition under well-watered conditions, but remarkably efficient to counteract the impact of DI and drought events. © The Author 2014.

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