Journal Article

Effect of flooding on C metabolism of flood-tolerant (<i>Quercus robur</i>) and non-tolerant (<i>Fagus sylvatica</i>) tree species

Eleni Ferner, Heinz Rennenberg and Jürgen Kreuzwieser

Edited by Peter Millard

in Tree Physiology

Volume 32, issue 2, pages 135-145
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tps009
Effect of flooding on C metabolism of flood-tolerant (Quercus robur) and non-tolerant (Fagus sylvatica) tree species

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Flooding is assumed to cause an energy crisis in plants because—due to a lack of O2—mitochondrial respiration is replaced by alcoholic fermentation which yields considerably less energy equivalents. In the present study, the effect of flooding on the carbon metabolism of flooding-tolerant pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) and flooding-sensitive European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) seedlings was characterized. Whereas soluble carbohydrate concentrations dropped in roots of F. sylvatica, they were constant in Q. robur during flooding. At the same time, root alcohol dehydrogenase activities were decreased in beech but not in oak, suggesting substrate limitation of alcoholic fermentation in beech roots. Surprisingly, leaf and phloem sap sugar concentrations increased in both species but to a much higher degree in beech. This finding suggests that the phloem unloading process in flooding-sensitive beech was strongly impaired. It is assumed that root-derived ethanol is transported to the leaves via the transpiration stream. This mechanism is considered an adaptation to flooding because it helps avoid the accumulation of toxic ethanol in the roots and supports the whole plant's carbon metabolism by channelling ethanol into the oxidative metabolism of the leaves. A labelling experiment demonstrated that in the leaves of flooded trees, ethanol metabolism does not differ between flooded beech and oak, indicating that processes in the roots are crucial for the trees' flooding tolerance.

Keywords: beech; C metabolism; ethanol; flooding; flood tolerance; oak; total soluble sugars

Journal Article.  7155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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