Journal Article

Why does phosphorus limitation increase wood density in <i>Eucalyptus grandis</i> seedlings?

D. S. Thomas, K. D. Montagu and J. P. Conroy

in Tree Physiology

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 35-42
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Why does phosphorus limitation increase wood density in Eucalyptus grandis seedlings?

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Wood density influences both the physiological function and economic value of tree stems. We examined the relationship between phosphorus (P) supply and stem wood density of Eucalyptus grandis Hill ex Maiden seedlings grown with varying soil P additions and determined how changes in wood anatomy and biomass partitioning affect the relationship. Plant height, stem diameter and total biomass increased by 400–500% with increasing P supply. Stem wood density decreased sharply from 520 to 380 kg m−3 as P supply increased to 70 mg P kgsoil−1. Further increases in P supply to 1000 mg P kgsoil−1 had no effect on wood density. The increase in wood density at low soil P supply arose principally from enhanced secondary wall thickening of stem fiber cells. Cell wall thickness increased from 3.6 to 4.5 μm as soil P supply decreased. Because fiber cell diameter was independent of soil P (12 μm ± 0.3), the proportion of the stem occupied by cell wall material increased as P supply declined. The enhanced secondary wall thickening of stem fiber cells at low P supply was not associated with changes in whole-plant biomass partitioning. Instead, low P supply appeared to alter biomass partitioning within the stem in favor of secondary wall thickening. Thus, increased wood density in E. grandis seedlings grown at low P soil supply was associated with inhibited stem cambial activity, resulting in an increased proportion of photoassimilates available for secondary wall thickening of fiber cells.

Keywords: biomass partitioning; eucalypt; fiber cell; nutrition; xylem vessel

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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