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Ecophysiological process regulates the growth of Cunninghamia lanceolata to suit short-term warming and nitrogen addition in the sub-tropical regions

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Key message

Under warming condition, growth of Cunninghamia lanceolata is not accompanied by increased photosynthetic performance. The combination of warming and N addition seemed to adversely influence leaf carbon balance as Rd/Pnmax and endogenous hormones were strongly affected.


Uncertainties about the response of plant eco-physiological mechanisms to elevated temperature and nitrogen (N) deposition make it difficult to predict the performance of plants under future climatic conditions in the sub-tropical regions. We measured photosynthetic parameters, the contents of osmoregulatory substances, oxidant substances, protective enzymes, and endogenous hormones in Cunninghamia lanceolata under conditions of soil warming and N addition. We used six treatments: (1) unwarmed and unfertilized (CT), (2) unwarmed and high N (HN), (3) unwarmed and low N (LN), (4) warmed and unfertilized (W), (5) warmed and high N (WHN), and (6) warmed and low N (WLN). We found that the Rd/Pnmax was the lowest in the W treatment, but the height was almost with the same as that of the CT. Plants under W showed plasticity of protective capacity by increasing peroxidase contents. N addition enhanced photosynthesis and promoted growth. The WLN treatments increased Rd/Pnmax and decreased indoleacetic acid, gibberellin, and cytokinin contents, which might caused reduction in the absorption of nutrients and growth of the plants in the short-term. There were no significant differences in the content of osmoregulatory substances among the different treatments. We conclude different mechanisms may exist between W and N addition treatments that probably depend on adjustments through the physiological and biophysical processes. This study provides a new reference for forest management in view of the future climate changes.

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The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. U1505233, 31670620, and 41401555) and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2014CB954003).

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Correspondence to Yuehmin Chen or Yusheng Yang.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Communicated by M. Buckeridge.

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Zhang, Q., Xiong, D., Xie, J. et al. Ecophysiological process regulates the growth of Cunninghamia lanceolata to suit short-term warming and nitrogen addition in the sub-tropical regions. Trees 32, 631–643 (2018).

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  • Global change
  • Protective enzymes
  • Photosynthesis
  • Endogenous hormones