Annals of Forest Science

, 76:84 | Cite as

Seasonal adjustment of primary and secondary growth in maritime pine under simulated climatic changes

  • Joana VieiraEmail author
  • Mikael Moura
  • Cristina Nabais
  • Helena Freitas
  • Filipe Campelo
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Wood formation and tree adaptation to climate


Key message

Reducing irrigation by up to 75% in spring decreased primary and secondary growth in Pinus pinaster Aiton saplings, whereas an extra irrigation in September prompted secondary growth, confirming the high plasticity of xylogenesis in this species.


Water availability is the main limiting factor for plant growth and forest productivity in drought-prone environments, such as the Mediterranean region. Future scenarios for this region predict an increase in spring drought and in autumn precipitation. Understanding how tree growth responds to these conditions is imperative to anticipate forest productivity shifts under future climate change scenarios.


We simulated the expected climatic conditions for the Mediterranean region in order to study the response of primary and secondary growth in maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Aiton) saplings.


In February 2017, 2-year-old maritime pine saplings (n = 512) were subjected to a water manipulation experiment in a tunnel greenhouse. Saplings were randomly divided into four groups: control, exclusion, irrigation and exclusion—irrigation. Between May and August, saplings in the exclusion and exclusion–irrigation groups received 50 to 75% less water than saplings in the control and irrigation groups. In September, saplings in the irrigation groups received an extra irrigation. From February 2017 to February 2018, primary (height) and secondary growth (diameter and wood formation) were monitored. Seasonal dynamics of cambial activity and wood formation were monitored monthly through destructive sampling.


Primary and secondary growth were reduced in exclusion saplings. The extra irrigation in September triggered the production of tracheids with wider lumen diameter at the end of the tree ring.


Maritime pine saplings survived an intense spring drought, despite primary and secondary growth reduction. The extra irrigation in September triggered a rapid increase in cambial activity, demonstrating the high plasticity of xylogenesis in this species.


Cambial activity Climate change Drought Wood anatomy Xylogenesis 



The authors would like to thank InProPlant for the use of their facilities and for helping in implementing the experiment, and to Ana Carvalho and Ana Fonseca. This study was supported by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Ministério da Educação e Ciência (FCT) co-financed by Compete, through the project PTDC/AAG-GLO/4784/2014. Filipe Campelo (SFRH/BPD/111307/2015) and Joana Vieira (SFRH/BPD/105656/2015) were supported by postdoctoral research grants from FCT with funds from POPH (Portuguese Operational Human Potential Program), QREN Portugal (Portuguese National Strategic Reference Framework), and ESF (European Social Fund). The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the handling editor for the helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript.


This study was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Ministério da Educação e Ciência (FCT).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Functional Ecology – Science for People & the Planet, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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