Abies fargesii var. faxoniana (Rehder et E.H. Wilson) Tang S Liu seedlings at high elevations compensate for the low efficiency of their water conducting system and high phloem hydraulic resistance by the enhancement in xylem:leaf area, phloem:leaf area, and phloem:xylem area.
Context Maintenance of xylem and phloem transport is particularly important for the survival and growth of trees at the treeline. How plants modify the allocation to leaf, xylem, and phloem structures to adapt to the treeline environment is an important issue.
Aims The purpose of this study was to estimate how xylem and phloem anatomy and volume as well as leaf functional traits of A. fargesii seedlings vary with elevation.
Methods We examined elevation-related differences in a variety of phloem and xylem functional areas and hydraulic conduit diameters of A. fargesii seedlings growing at elevations between 2600 and 3200 m in the subalpine conifer forest of southwest China.
Results Xylem area, last xylem ring area, and leaf:sapwood area significantly decreased, while xylem:leaf area, phloem:leaf area, and non-collapsed phloem:xylem area significantly increased with elevation. Principal components analysis showed that xylem area, non-collapsed phloem area, and xylem:phloem area were positively correlated with growth rates.
Conclusion Our results showed that A. fargesii tree seedlings at the treeline tend to facilitate growth and maintain functional water and sugar balance between stem and leaves by the enhancement in xylem:leaf area, phloem:leaf area, and phloem:xylem area, but not through differences in vessel lumen diameter.
Functional tissue ratio; Growth limitation; Non-structural carbohydrates; Phloem and xylem anatomy traits
Zhang, Y., Jyske, T., Pumpanen, J. et al. Adaptation of Abies fargesii var. faxoniana (Rehder et E.H. Wilson) Tang S Liu seedlings to high altitude in a subalpine forest in southwestern China with special reference to phloem and xylem traits. Annals of Forest Science 78, 85 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-021-01095-8
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The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.