Drought Stress Alters the Concentration of Wood Terpenoids in Scots Pine and Norway Spruce Seedlings
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- Turtola, S., Manninen, AM., Rikala, R. et al. J Chem Ecol (2003) 29: 1981. doi:10.1023/A:1025674116183
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Drought is known to have an impact on the resistance of conifers to various pests, for example, by affecting resin flow in trees. Little is known, however, about the quantitative and qualitative changes in resin when trees are growing in low moisture conditions. We exposed Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) seedlings to medium and severe drought stress for two growing seasons and analyzed the monoterpenes and resin acids in the main stem wood after two years of treatment. In addition to secondary chemistry, we measured the level of nutrients in the needles and the growth response of seedlings. After the first year of treatment, drought stress did not affect the growth of seedlings, but in the second year, shoot growth was retarded, especially in Scots pine. In both conifer species, severe drought increased the concentrations of several individual monoterpenes and resin acids. Total monoterpenes and resin acids were 39 and 32% higher in severe drought-treated Scots pine seedlings than in the controls, and 35 and 45% higher in Norway spruce seedlings. In Scots pine needles, the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus increased, while magnesium and calcium decreased compared to controls. In Norway spruce needles, nutrient concentrations were not affected. The results suggest that drought stress substantially affects both the growth of conifers and the chemical quality of the wood. We discuss the potential trade-off in growth and defense of small conifer seedlings.