Photosynthetic acclimation to long-term high temperature and soil drought stress in two spruce species (Picea crassifolia and P. wilsonii) used for afforestation

  • Xiaowei Zhang
  • Litong Chen
  • Jingru Wang
  • Minghao Wang
  • Shuli Yang
  • Changming Zhao
Original Paper


Picea crassifolia and P. wilsonii, commonly used for afforestation in northern China, are increasingly likely to be subjected to high temperatures and soil drought stress as a result of global warming. However, little is known about the effects of these stresses on foliar photosynthesis in the two species. To investigate how photosynthetic characteristics and sensitivity respond to prolonged high temperatures and soil drought, foliar gas exchange and other closely related parameters were recorded from four-year-old seedlings of both species. Seedlings were grown under two temperature treatments (25/15 and 35/25 °C) and four soil water regimes [80, 60, 40 and 20% of maximum field capacity (FC)] for 4 months. Although all treatments significantly reduced photosynthetic rates (Pn) of both species, P. crassifolia exhibited greater photosynthetic acclimation than P. wilsonii. Differences in photosynthetic acclimation were mainly related to variations in stomatal conductance (Cond) and the maximum quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm) between treatments. Indeed, higher Cond and Fv/Fm in all treatments were shown for P. crassifolia than for P. wilsonii. Moreover, photosynthesis in P. crassifolia exhibited inherently lower temperature sensitivities (broader span for the temperature response curves; lower b) and higher thermostability (invariable b between treatments). Further, severe drought stress (20% FC) limited the survival of P. wilsonii. Our results indicate that P. wilsonii is more susceptible to high temperatures and soil drought stress. Planting P. crassifolia would be more expected to survive these conditions and hence be of greater benefit to forest stability if predicted increases in drought and temperature in northern China occur.


Acclimation Photosynthesis Drought High temperature Picea crassifolia Picea wilsonii 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaowei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Litong Chen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jingru Wang
    • 1
  • Minghao Wang
    • 1
  • Shuli Yang
    • 4
  • Changming Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, School of Life SciencesLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Forestry ScienceGansu Agricultural UniversityLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau BiotaNorthwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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