, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 187-195

Food reserves of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.)

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The amounts of starch, soluble sugars, triacylglycerols, diacylglycerols and free fatty acids were studied in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) during an annual cycle in current-year needles and in 1-, 2- and 3-year-old needles collected shortly after bud break. Determination of the compounds was performed using specific enzymatic assays, capillary gas chromatography and thin layer chromatography. Newly emerging needles contained relatively large amounts of starch, but only trace amounts of fat. During autumn and winter, fat content rose, while starch content decreased; amounts of both these reserve materials were very high the next spring shortly before bud break and decreased again during shoot elongation. Concentration of intermediates in triacylglycerol biosynthesis (diacylglycerols and free fatty acids), were low in summer and high in winter. The same pattern was observed for fructose and glucose (the predominant soluble sugars), galactose/arabinose and raffinose/melibiose. In contrast, sucrose concentrations were highest in spring and in autumn. Mature needles of different ages collected in May showed significant differences only in their triacylglycerol and starch content. Concentration changes of reserve materials are discussed in relation to season, mobilization and translocation processes, dormancy, frost resistance and the possibility of carbohydrate-fat interconversions.