Genetic and environmental control of seasonal carbohydrate dynamics in trees of diverse Pinus sylvestris populations

J. Oleksyn, R. Zytkowiak, P. Karolewski, P. B. Reich, M. G. Tjoelker

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89 Scopus citations


We explored environmental and genetic factors affecting seasonal dynamics of starch and soluble non-structural carbohydrates in needle and twig cohorts and roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees of six populations originating between 49° and 60° N, and grown under common garden conditions in western Poland. Trees of each population were sampled once or twice per month over a 3-year period from age 15 to 17 years. Based on similarity in starch concentration patterns in needles, two distinct groups of populations were identified; one comprised northern populations from Sweden and Russia (59-60° N), and another comprised central European populations from Latvia, Poland, Germany and France (49-56° N). Needle starch concentrations of northern populations started to decline in late spring and reached minimum values earlier than those of central populations. For all populations, starch accumulation in spring started when minimum air temperature permanently exceeded 0 °C. Starch accumulation peaked before bud break and was highest in 1-year-old needles, averaging 9-13% of dry mass. Soluble carbohydrate concentrations were lowest in spring and summer and highest in autumn and winter. There were no differences among populations in seasonal pattern of soluble carbohydrate concentrations. Averaged across all populations, needle soluble carbohydrate concentrations increased from about 4% of needle dry mass in developing current-year needles, to about 9% in 1-and 2-year-old needles. Root carbohydrate concentration exhibited a bimodal pattern with peaks in spring and autumn. Northern populations had higher concentrations of fine-root starch in spring and autumn than central populations. Late-summer carbohydrate accumulation in roots started only after depletion of starch in needles and woody shoots. We conclude that Scots pine carbohydrate dynamics depend partially on inherited properties that are probably related to phenology of root and shoot growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-847
Number of pages11
JournalTree physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Defoliation
  • Needle
  • Phenology
  • Provenance
  • Root
  • Shoot
  • Soluble carbohydrates
  • Starch


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