Drought-induced mortality in Scots pine: Opening the metabolic black box

Sarah MacAllister, Maurizio Mencuccini, Ulf Sommer, Jasper Engel, Andrew Hudson, Yann Salmon, Kyle G. Dexter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Forests are sensitive to droughts, which increase the mortality rate of tree species. Various processes have been proposed to underlie drought-induced tree mortality, including hydraulic failure, carbon starvation and increased susceptibility to natural enemies. To give insights into these processes, we assessed the metabolic effects of a mortality-inducing drought on seedlings of Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots Pine), a widespread and important Eurasian species. We found divergence over time in the foliar metabolic composition of droughted vs well-watered seedlings, with the former showing increased abundance of aromatic amino acids and decreases in secondary metabolism associated with defence. We observed no significant differences amongst provenances in these effects: seedlings from drought-prone areas showed the same foliar metabolic changes under drought as seedlings from moist environments, although morphological effects of drought varied by provenance. Overall, our results demonstrate how severe drought prior to death may target particular primary and secondary metabolic pathways, weakening defences against natural enemies and contributing to the risk of drought-induced mortality in P. sylvestris.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbertpz049
Pages (from-to)1358-1370
JournalTree physiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • carbon starvation
  • drought
  • genotype by environment
  • hydraulic failure
  • metabolomics
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • plant defence
  • provenance effects
  • seedling


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