Journal Article

Calcium addition at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest increases sugar storage, antioxidant activity and cold tolerance in native red spruce (<i>Picea rubens</i>)

Joshua M. Halman, Paul G. Schaberg, Gary J. Hawley and Christopher Eagar

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 6, pages 855-862
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/28.6.855
Calcium addition at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest increases sugar storage, antioxidant activity and cold tolerance in native red spruce (Picea rubens)

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In fall (November 2005) and winter (February 2006), we collected current-year foliage of native red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) growing in a reference watershed and in a watershed treated in 1999 with wollastonite (CaSiO3, a slow-release calcium source) to simulate preindustrial soil calcium concentrations (Ca-addition watershed) at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (Thornton, NH). We analyzed nutrition, soluble sugar concentrations, ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity and cold tolerance, to evaluate the basis of recent (2003) differences between watersheds in red spruce foliar winter injury. Foliar Ca and total sugar concentrations were significantly higher in trees in the Ca-addition watershed than in trees in the reference watershed during both fall (P = 0.037 and 0.035, respectively) and winter (P = 0.055 and 0.036, respectively). The Ca-addition treatment significantly increased foliar fructose and glucose concentrations in November (P = 0.013 and 0.007, respectively) and foliar sucrose concentrations in winter (P = 0.040). Foliar APX activity was similar in trees in both watersheds during fall (P = 0.28), but higher in trees in the Ca-addition watershed during winter (P = 0.063). Cold tolerance of foliage was significantly greater in trees in the Ca-addition watershed than in trees in the reference watershed (P < 0.001). Our results suggest that low foliar sugar concentrations and APX activity, and reduced cold tolerance in trees in the reference watershed contributed to their high vulnerability to winter injury in 2003. Because the reference watershed reflects forest conditions in the region, the consequences of impaired physiological function caused by soil Ca depletion may have widespread implications for forest health.

Keywords: ascorbate peroxidase; calcium depletion; cations; freezing tolerance; New Hampshire; soluble sugars; wollastonite

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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