Journal Article

Boron nutrition affects the carbon metabolism of silver birch seedlings

Teija Ruuhola, Markku Keinänen, Sarita Keski-Saari and Tarja Lehto

Edited by Heinz Rennenberg

in Tree Physiology

Volume 31, issue 11, pages 1251-1261
Published in print November 2011 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Boron nutrition affects the carbon metabolism of silver birch seedlings

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Boron (B) is an essential micronutrient whose deficiency is common both in agriculture and in silviculture. Boron deficiency impairs the growth of plants and affects many metabolic processes like carbohydrate metabolism. Boron deficiency and also excess B may decrease the sink demand by decreasing the growth and sugar transport which may lead to the accumulation of carbohydrates and down-regulation of photosynthesis. In this study, we investigated the effects of B nutrition on the soluble and storage carbohydrate concentrations of summer leaves and autumn buds in a deciduous tree species, Betula pendula Roth. In addition, we investigated the changes in the pools of condensed tannins between summer and autumn harvests. One-year-old birch seedlings were fertilized with a complete nutrient solution containing three different levels of B: 0, 30 and 100% of the standard level for complete nutrient solution. Half of the seedlings were harvested after summer period and another half when leaves abscised. The highest B fertilization level (B100) caused an accumulation of starch and a decrease in the concentrations of hexoses (glucose and fructose) in summer leaves, whereas in the B0 seedlings, hexoses (mainly glucose) accumulated and starch decreased. These changes in carbohydrate concentrations might be related to the changes in the sink demand since the autumn growth was the smallest for the B100 seedlings and largest for the B30 seedlings that did not accumulate carbohydrates. The autumn buds of B30 seedlings contained the lowest levels of glucose, glycerol, raffinose and total polyols, which was probably due to the dilution effect of the deposition of other substances like phenols. Condensed tannins accumulated in high amounts in the birch stems during the hardening of seedlings and the largest accumulation was detected in the B30 treatment. Our results suggest that B nutrition of birch seedlings affects the carbohydrate and phenol metabolism and may play an important role in the hardening process of the seedlings.

Keywords: boron; carbohydrates; cryoprotectants; hexoses; polyols; sugars

Journal Article.  7448 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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