Impact of genetic variation and long-term limited water availability on the ecophysiology of young Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.)

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Title: Impact of genetic variation and long-term limited water availability on the ecophysiology of young Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.)
Authors: Grant, Olga
O'Reilly, Conor
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/8093
Date: 2016
Abstract: Future limited water availability may reduce the potential of tree improvement to increase timber yields. We investigated ecophysiological variation between full-sibling families of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis(Bong.) Carr.) growing under contrasting water availability conditions: control (optimal) water availability and limited water availability. One-year-old seedlings of nine improved families plus an unimproved seed lot were grown in pots in a greenhouse and the two water availability treatments imposed via drip irrigation. Whole-plant water use varied between families. Stomatal conductance and the light-saturated quantum yield of photosystem II at times differed between families, but not consistently. Certain families showed considerably greater increases in electron transport rate with increasing photosynthetically active radiation. Limited water availability resulted in reduced branch water potential, leaf stomatal conductance and transpiration per unit leaf area, and increased whole-plant water-use efficiency, in all genetic material. The responses of plant water use and leaf carbon isotope composition to water limitation, were, however, initially influenced by variation in vigour between families¿with conservative growth in some material slowing the decline in substrate moisture content. As the duration of water deficit extended, these variables showed a more uniform response across families. Between-family variation in physiological mechanisms of drought tolerance was not detected. Thus, for Sitka spruce, assessing juvenile material may not allow selection to prevent reductions in productivity associated with long-term sub-optimal growing conditions, but screening for conservative growth (within families as well as between families) may be beneficial where survival of relatively short-term water limitation is the primary concern.
Funding Details: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Copyright (published version): 2016 Oxford University Press
Keywords: Drought/water deficit;Forestry;Isotope composition;Photochemical yield;Stomatal conductance;Tree breeding;Water-use efficiency
DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpw093
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Agriculture and Food Science Research Collection

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