Seasonal fluctuation of nonstructural carbohydrates reveals the metabolic availability of stemwood reserves in temperate trees with contrasting wood anatomy

Morgan E. Furze, Brett A. Huggett, Catherine J. Chamberlain, Molly M. Wieringa, Donald M. Aubrecht, Mariah S. Carbone, Jennifer C. Walker, Xiaomei Xu, Claudia I. Czimczik, Andrew D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) play a critical role in plant physiology and metabolism, yet we know little about their distribution within individual organs such as the stem. This leaves many open questions about whether reserves deep in the stem are metabolically active and available to support functional processes. To gain insight into the availability of reserves, we measured radial patterns of NSCs over the course of a year in the stemwood of temperate trees with contrasting wood anatomy (ring porous vs diffuse porous). In a subset of trees, we estimated the mean age of soluble sugars within and between different organs using the radiocarbon (14C) bomb spike approach. First, we found that NSC concentrations were the highest and most seasonally dynamic in the outermost stemwood segments for both ring-porous and diffuse-porous trees. However, while the seasonal fluctuation of NSCs was dampened in deeper stemwood segments for ring-porous trees, it remained high for diffuse-porous trees. These NSC dynamics align with differences in the proportion of functional sapwood and the arrangement of vessels between ring-porous and diffuse-porous trees. Second, radial patterns of 14C in the stemwood showed that sugars became older when moving toward the pith. The same pattern was found in the coarse roots. Finally, when taken together, our results highlight how the radial distribution and age of NSCs relate to wood anatomy and suggest that while deeper, and likely older, reserves in the stemwood fluctuated across the seasons, the deepest reserves at the center of the stem were not used to support tree metabolism under usual environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1365
Number of pages11
JournalTree Physiology
Volume40
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Forest trees
  • Nonstructural carbohydrates
  • Radiocarbon
  • Storage
  • Wood anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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