Xylogenesis of Pinus pinaster under a Mediterranean climate
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The knowledge on cambial activity in water-limited environments, such as the Mediterranean, is still fragmentary. Dendrochronological studies have determined that spring precipitation plays an important part in determining tree-ring width and the properties of tracheids. However, the complex relation between cambial phenology and climate is still far from understood.
We studied the influence of climate, especially water stress, on maritime pine wood formation with the aim of determining the influence of drought on cambial activity.
A plantation of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) was selected in the west coast of Portugal, to monitor cambial activity and wood formation using anatomical observations and band dendrometers. The trees were monitored weekly over 2 years (2010 and 2011).
Xylem differentiation started earlier when warmer late winter temperatures were observed. Water stress triggered an earlier stop of wood formation and also the formation of tracheids with smaller lumen area. In both years a bimodal pattern of stem radial increment was registered by band dendrometers with two periods of increment: one in spring and another in autumn. The xylem anatomy study suggests that the autumnal increment period corresponded mostly to stem rehydration, since the differentiation of new xylem cells by the cambium was not observed.
Maritime pine cambial activity appears to be under a double climatic control: temperature influences cambial onset and water availability growth cessation.
KeywordsWood formation Drought Mediterranean Maritime pine Dendrometers
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