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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Davis, California » Crops Pathology and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #381588

Research Project: Resilient, Sustainable Production Strategies for Low-Input Environments

Location: Crops Pathology and Genetics Research

Title: Ecologically driven selection of nonstructural carbohydrate storage in oak trees

item FURZE, MORGAN - Yale University
item WAINWRIGHT, DYLAN - Yale University
item HUGGETT, BRETT - Bates College
item KNIPFER, THORSTEN - University Of California, Davis
item McElrone, Andrew
item BRODERSEN, CRAIG - Yale University

Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/26/2021
Publication Date: 7/8/2021
Citation: Furze, M.E., Wainwright, D.K., Huggett, B.A., Knipfer, T., McElrone, A.J., Brodersen, C.R. 2021. Ecologically driven selection of nonstructural carbohydrate storage in oak trees. New Phytologist. 232:567-578.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The large diversity of plant communities illustrates the alternative strategies that plants have evolved to live under the same environmental conditions. Leaf habit is a key qualitative character that varies between plant species and has consequences for carbon balance since the leaf is the primary site of photosynthesis. Nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) produced by photosynthesis can be allocated to storage and serve as a resiliency mechanism to future abiotic and biotic stress. However, how leaf habit affects NSC storage, in an evolutionary context, has not been shown. Using a comparative physiological framework and an analysis of evolutionary model fitting, we examined if variation in NSC storage is explained by leaf habit. We measured sugar and starch concentrations in 51 Quercus (oak) species, representing three different leaf habits (deciduous, brevideciduous, and evergreen) and growing at the same site in northern California (USA). By accounting for phylogenetic relationships, the best fitting models indicated that deciduous oak species are evolving towards higher NSC concentrations than their relatives. Notably, this was observed for starch (the primary storage molecule) in the stem (a long-term C storage organ), which suggests that a deciduous strategy may confer an advantage against stress-associated with a changing world. Overall, our work provides insight in the evolutionary drivers of NSC storage and informs predictions of forest ecosystem C dynamics and resiliency under global change.