, Volume 243, Issue 1-4, pp 145-152
Date: 17 Jun 2009

Critically reduced frost resistance of Picea abies during sprouting could be linked to cytological changes

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Abstract

Frost resistance of sprouting Picea abies shoots is insufficient for survival of naturally occurring late frosts. The cellular changes during sprouting appeared to be responsible for frost damage as frost events that damaged sprouting shoots did not damage older needles and stems. Whilst resting buds showed initial frost damage at −15.0°C, 20 days later, current year’s growth was damaged at −5.6°C. The decrease in frost resistance in sprouting shoots of P. abies was accompanied by a significant reduction of the cellular solute concentration, indicated by much less negative ΨoSAT values (increase from −2.8 to −1.2 MPa). ψoSAT decreased again after the final cell volume was reached and cell wall thickening began. After bud break, ice nucleation temperature increased from −4.7°C to −1.5°C. This increase was probably caused by the loss of bud scales, the onset of expansion growth of the central cylinder and the development of vascular tissue permitting the spread of ice from the stem into the growing needles. The onset of mesophyll cell wall thickening coincided with the lowest frost resistances. Cell wall thickening caused an increase in the modulus of elasticity, ε, indicating a decrease in tissue elasticity and after that frost resistance increased again. Metabolic and cytological changes that evidently leave little leeway for frost hardening are responsible for the low frost resistance in current year’s growth of P. abies. This low frost resistance will be significant in the future as the risk of frost damage due to earlier bud break is anticipated to even further increase.

Dedicated to Professor Cornelius Lütz on the occasion of his 65th birthday.