Canadian Forest Service Publications
Partitioning of carbon allocation to reserves or growth determines future performance of aspen seedlings. 2012. Landhäusser, S.M.; Pinno, B.D.; Lieffers, V.J.; Chow, P.S. Forest Ecology and Management 275:43-51.
Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 33534
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Increasingly, trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) is being planted in stressful situations such as forest land reclamation, afforestation and forest restoration in North America. This is due to its fast potential for growth and high resiliency, but its indeterminate growth strategy provides a special challenge in creating suitable planting stock for these sites. Clues from naturally established aspen seedlings suggest that root total non-structural carbohydrate (TNC) reserves and root:shoot ratio could be strongly related to subsequent seedling establishment and growth. Carbon allocation in plants is generally partitioned between reserve accumulation and growth and development. Under conditions in controlled nurseries,the allocation of carbohydrates to reserves could be manipulated in order to produce seedlings designed for specific environmental conditions. To manipulate seedling characteristics we attempted to induce premature bud set during nursery culture while allowing continued photosynthesis. Treatments included applying different fertilizer regimes, light intensities, reducing photoperiod and use of a shoot growth inhibitor. The shoot growth inhibitor was the most reliable treatment and resulted in complete budset, while blackout was successful only when seedlings were grown outside. Low nutrient treatments also resulted in early bud set; however, leaves were abscised much earlier. There was a distinct trade-off between growth and reserve accumulation with the late bud set. A longer period of height growth reduced root and total TNC reserves, while early bud set allowed for continued photosynthesis and produced the highest levels of root and total TNC reserves in seedlings. Increased TNC reserves of aspen planting stock was positively related to height growth after outplanting, with root TNC reserves as high as 33% of dry weight and root:shoot ratios greater than 2 associated with the best growth.