Tree physiology

Physiological response to drought in radiata pine: phytohormone implication at leaf level.

PMID 22499594


Pinus radiata D. Don is one of the most abundant species in the north of Spain. Knowledge of drought response mechanisms is essential to guarantee plantation survival under reduced water supply as predicted in the future. Tolerance mechanisms are being studied in breeding programs, because information on such mechanisms can be used for genotype selection. In this paper, we analyze the changes of leaf water potential, hydraulic conductance (K(leaf)), stomatal conductance and phytohormones under drought in P. radiata breeds (O1, O2, O3, O4, O5 and O6) from different climatology areas, hypothesizing that they could show variable drought tolerance. As a primary signal, drought decreased cytokinin (zeatin and zeatin riboside-Z + ZR) levels in needles parallel to K(leaf) and gas exchange. When Z + ZR decreased by 65%, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation started as a second signal and increments were higher for IAA than for ABA. When plants decreased by 80%, Z + ZR and K(leaf) doubled their ABA and IAA levels, the photosystem II yield decreased and the electrolyte leakage increased. At the end of the drought period, less tolerant breeds increased IAA over 10-fold compared with controls. External damage also induced jasmonic acid accumulation in all breeds except in O5 (P. radiata var. radiata × var. cedrosensis), which accumulated salicylic acid as a defense mechanism. After rewatering, only the most tolerant plants recovered their K(leaf,) perhaps due to an IAA decrease and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid maintenance. From all phytohormones, IAA was the most representative 'water deficit signal' in P. radiata.