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Title: Hotter droughts alter resource allocation to chemical defenses in piñon pine

Heat and drought affect plant chemical defenses and thereby plant susceptibility to pests and pathogens. Monoterpenes are of particular importance for conifers as they play critical roles in defense against bark beetles. To date, work seeking to understand the impacts of heat and drought on monoterpenes has primarily focused on young potted seedlings, leaving it unclear how older age classes that are more vulnerable to bark beetles might respond to stress. Furthermore, we lack a clear picture of what carbon resources might be prioritized to support monoterpene synthesis under drought stress. To address this, we measured needle and woody tissue monoterpene concentrations and physiological variables simultaneously from mature piñon pines (Pinus edulis) from a unique temperature and drought manipulation field experiment. While heat had no effect on total monoterpene concentrations, trees under combined heat and drought stress exhibited ~ 85% and 35% increases in needle and woody tissue, respectively, over multiple years. Plant physiological variables like maximum photosynthesis each explained less than 10% of the variation in total monoterpenes for both tissue types while starch and glucose + fructose measured 1-month prior explained ~ 45% and 60% of the variation in woody tissue total monoterpene concentrations. Although total monoterpenes increased under combined stress, some key monoterpenes with known roles in bark beetle ecology decreased. These shifts may make trees more favorable for bark beetle attack rather than well defended, which one might conclude if only considering total monoterpene concentrations. Our results point to cumulative and synergistic effects of heat and drought that may reprioritize carbon allocation of specific non-structural carbohydrates toward defense.

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Award ID(s):
2139080 2129747 1755345
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 921-938
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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