, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 175–186 | Cite as

Ontogenetic differentiation between Mediterranean and Eurasian pines (sect. Pinus) at the seedling stage

  • José ClimentEmail author
  • Roberto San-Martín
  • Maria Regina Chambel
  • Sven Mutke
Original Paper


Heteroblastic development in pine seedlings includes extreme morphological changes with still unclear adaptive and evolutionary significance. In particular, Mediterranean and Eurasian pines (section Pinus) living in the Mediterranean basin seem to follow quite distinct developmental trajectories at the seedling stage. Aiming to confirm this ontogenetic differentiation we performed a nursery experiment with seedlings of five Mediterranean pines (Pinus pinaster, P. brutia, P. halepensis, P. pinea and P. canariensis) and three Eurasian pines (P. sylvestris, P. uncinata, and P. nigra subsp. salzmannii), also including P. radiata as an outgroup. After destructive analyses at two harvest times (9 and 32 weeks), we found sharp differentiation between Mediterranean and Eurasian pines in a combination of traits linked to shoot heteroblasty. In particular, Mediterranean pines showed a marked delay in the proportion of adult needles to total needles in the shoot compared to Eurasian species, especially at the second harvest. However, two Mediterranean pines, P. pinaster and P. brutia showed a slightly higher proportion of secondary needles, and a higher rate of budset at a more advanced stage (68 weeks) compared to the other three Mediterranean species. Meaningfully, the outgroup P. radiata was the only species combining a high proportion of adult foliage since the first harvest with a delayed formation of the first terminal bud. We discussed the adaptive significance of these findings at the light of species’ climatic niches and life histories.


Allometry Hard pines Heteroblasty Heterophylly Vegetative phase change 



Thanks to S. Iglesias, J. Peñuelas and J.L. Nicolas (DGMNPF, Spain) for providing the seeds, to N. Godoy, F. del Caño, S. Herrera (INIA, Madrid) for laboratory work, to F. Salgado, I. Santos and G. Ruiz (TRAGSA, Spain) for nursery work and to M. Pardos, R. Alía and M. Verdú for criticism and advising. Research funded by projects AT-05 002 (INIA) and AGL2005-07440 REPROFOR (CYCIT). The English was kindly revised by Marcas Ó Murchú, Derry, Ireland.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Climent
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Roberto San-Martín
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Regina Chambel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Sven Mutke
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.CIFORInstituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenierías AgrariasUniversidad de ValladolidPalenciaSpain
  3. 3.Sustainable Forest Management Research Institute (UVA-INIA)

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