Does long-term drought or repeated defoliation affect seasonal leaf N cycling in young beech trees? - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Tree Physiology Year : 2024

Does long-term drought or repeated defoliation affect seasonal leaf N cycling in young beech trees?

Abstract

Abstract Forest trees adopt effective strategies to optimize nitrogen (N) use through internal N recycling. In the context of more recurrent environmental stresses due to climate change, the question remains whether increased frequency of drought or defoliation threatens this internal nitrogen recycling strategy. We submitted 8-year-old beech trees to two years of either severe drought (Dro) or manual defoliation (Def) to create a state of N starvation. At the end of the 2nd year before leaf senescence, we labeled the foliage of the Dro and Def trees, as well as that of control (Co) trees, with 15N-urea. Leaf N resorption, winter tree N storage (total N, 15N, amino acids, soluble proteins) and N remobilization in spring were evaluated for the three treatments. Defoliation and drought did not significantly impact foliar N resorption or N concentrations in organs in winter. Total N amounts in Def tree remained close to those in Co tree, but winter N was stored more in the branches than in the trunk and roots. Total N amount in Dro trees was drastically reduced (−55%), especially at the trunk level, but soluble protein concentrations increased in the trunk and fine roots compared to Co trees. During spring, 15N was mobilized from the trunk, branches and twigs of both Co and Def trees to support leaf growth. It was only provided through twig 15N remobilization in the Dro trees, thus resulting in extremely reduced Dro leaf N amounts. Our results suggest that stress-induced changes occur in N metabolism but with varying severity depending on the constraints: within-tree 15N transport and storage strategy changed in response to defoliation whereas a soil water deficit induced a drastic reduction of the N amounts in all the tree organs. Consequently, N dysfunction could be involved in drought-induced beech tree mortality under the future climate.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2024
Embargoed file
Tuesday, October 29, 2024
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Dates and versions

hal-04592906 , version 1 (29-05-2024)

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Catherine Massonnet, Pierre-Antoine Chuste, Bernhard Zeller, Pascal Tillard, Bastien Gerard, et al.. Does long-term drought or repeated defoliation affect seasonal leaf N cycling in young beech trees?. Tree Physiology, 2024, 44 (6), tpae054. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpae054/7678724⟩. ⟨hal-04592906⟩
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