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  1. Abstract

    Plant survival depends on a balance between carbon supply and demand. When carbon supply becomes limited, plants buffer demand by using stored carbohydrates (sugar and starch). During drought, NSCs (non-structural carbohydrates) may accumulate if growth stops before photosynthesis. This expectation is pervasive, yet few studies have combined simultaneous measurements of drought, photosynthesis, growth, and carbon storage to test this. Using a field experiment with mature trees in a semi-arid woodland, we show that growth and photosynthesis slow in parallel as$${\psi }_{{pd}}$$ψpddeclines, preventing carbon storage in two species of conifer (J. monospermaandP. edulis). During experimental drought, growth and photosynthesis were frequently co-limited. Our results point to an alternative perspective on how plants use carbon that views growth and photosynthesis as independent processes both regulated by water availability.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Volatile terpenes serve multiple biological roles including tree resistance against herbivores. The increased frequency and severity of drought stress observed in forests across the globe may hinder trees from producing defense-related volatiles in response to biotic stress. To assess how drought-induced physiological stress alters volatile emissions alone and in combination with a biotic challenge, we monitored pre-dawn water potential, gas-exchange, needle terpene concentrations and terpene volatile emissions of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) saplings during three periods of drought and in response to simulated herbivory via methyl jasmonate application. Although 3-, 6- and 7-week drought treatments reduced net photosynthetic rates by 20, 89 and 105%, respectively, the magnitude of volatile fluxes remained generally resistant to drought. Herbivore-induced emissions, however, exhibited threshold-like behavior; saplings were unable to induce emissions above constitutive levels when pre-dawn water potentials were below the approximate zero-assimilation point. By comparing compositional shifts in emissions to needle terpene concentrations, we found evidence that drought effects on constitutive and herbivore-induced volatile flux and composition are primarily via constraints on the de novo fraction, suggesting that reduced photosynthesis during drought limits the carbon substrate available for de novo volatile synthesis. However, results from a subsequent 13CO2 pulse-chase labeling experiment then confirmed that both constitutive (<3% labeled) and herbivore-induced (<8% labeled) de novo emissions from ponderosa pine are synthesized predominantly from older carbon sources with little contribution from new photosynthates. Taken together, we provide evidence that in ponderosa pine, drought does not constrain herbivore-induced de novo emissions through substrate limitation via reduced photosynthesis, but rather through more sophisticated molecular and/or biophysical mechanisms that manifest as saplings reach the zero-assimilation point. These results highlight the importance of considering drought severity when assessing impacts on the herbivore-induced response and suggest that drought-altered volatile metabolism constrains induced emissions once a physiological threshold is surpassed.

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  3. Abstract. The exchange of trace gases between the biosphere and the atmosphere is an important process that controls both chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere with implications for air quality and climate change. The terrestrial biosphere is a major source of reactive biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) that govern atmospheric concentrations of the hydroxy radical (OH) and ozone (O3) and control the formation andgrowth of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Common simulations of BVOCsurface–atmosphere exchange in chemical transport models use parameterizations derived from the growing season and do not considerpotential changes in emissions during seasonal transitions. Here, we useobservations of BVOCs over a mixed temperate forest in northern Wisconsinduring broadleaf senescence to better understand the effects of the seasonal changes in canopy conditions (e.g., temperature, sunlight, leaf area, and leaf stage) on net BVOC exchange. The BVOCs investigated here include the terpenoids isoprene (C5H8), monoterpenes (MTs; C10H16), a monoterpene oxide (C10H16O), and sesquiterpenes (SQTs; C15H24), as well as a subset of other monoterpene oxides and dimethyl sulfide (DMS). During this period, MTs were primarily composed of α-pinene, β-pinene, and camphene, with α-pinene and camphene dominant during the first half of September and β-pinene thereafter. We observed enhanced MT and monoterpene oxide emissions following the onset of leaf senescence and suggest that senescence has the potential to be a significant control on late-season MT emissions in this ecosystem. We show that common parameterizations of BVOC emissions cannot reproduce the fluxes of MT, C10H16O, and SQT during the onset and continuation of senescence but can correctly simulate isoprene flux. We also describe the impact of the MT emission enhancement on the potential to form highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs). The calculated production rates of HOMs and H2SO4, constrained by terpene and DMS concentrations, suggest that biogenic aerosol formation and growth in this region should be dominated by secondary organics rather than sulfate. Further, we show that models using parameterized MT emissions likely underestimate HOM production, and thus aerosol growth and formation, during early autumn in this region. Further measurements of forest–atmosphere BVOC exchange during seasonal transitions as well as measurements of DMS in temperate regions are needed to effectively predict the effects of canopy changes on reactive carbon cycling and aerosol production. 
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  4. Abstract

    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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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Summary

    Plant resource allocation patterns often reveal tradeoffs that favor growth (G) over defense (D), or vice versa. Ecologists most often explain G–D tradeoffs through principles of economic optimality, in which negative trait correlations are attributed to the reconciliation of fitness costs. Recently, researchers in molecular biology have developed ‘big data’ resources including multi‐omic (e.g. transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic) studies that describe the cellular processes controlling gene expression in model species. In this synthesis, we bridge ecological theory with discoveries in multi‐omics biology to better understand how selection has shaped the mechanisms of G–D tradeoffs. Multi‐omic studies reveal strategically coordinated patterns in resource allocation that are enabled by phytohormone crosstalk and transcriptional signal cascades. Coordinated resource allocation justifies the framework of optimality theory, while providing mechanistic insight into the feedbacks and control hubs that calibrate G–D tradeoff commitments. We use the existing literature to describe the coordinated resource allocation hypothesis (CoRAH) that accounts for balanced cellular controls during the expression of G–D tradeoffs, while sustaining stored resource pools to buffer the impacts of future stresses. The integrative mechanisms of the CoRAH unify the supply‐ and demand‐side perspectives of previous G–D tradeoff theories.

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  7. null (Ed.)
  8. Summary

    Shifts in the age or turnover time of non‐structural carbohydrates (NSC) may underlie changes in tree growth under long‐term increases in drought stress associated with climate change. But NSC responses to drought are challenging to quantify, due in part to large NSC stores in trees and subsequently long response times of NSC to climate variation.

    We measured NSC age (Δ14C) along with a suite of ecophysiological metrics inPinus edulistrees experiencing either extreme short‐term drought (−90% ambient precipitation plot, 2020–2021) or a decade of severe drought (−45% plot, 2010–2021). We tested the hypothesis that carbon starvation – consumption exceeding synthesis and storage – increases the age of sapwood NSC.

    One year of extreme drought had no impact on NSC pool size or age, despite significant reductions in predawn water potential, photosynthetic rates/capacity, and twig and needle growth. By contrast, long‐term drought halved the age of the sapwood NSC pool, coupled with reductions in sapwood starch concentrations (−75%), basal area increment (−39%), and bole respiration rates (−28%).

    Our results suggest carbon starvation takes time, as tree carbon reserves appear resilient to extreme disturbance in the short term. However, after a decade of drought, trees apparently consumed old stored NSC to support metabolism.

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