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Keywords:

  • Poplar;
  • potassium nutrition;
  • cambial growth;
  • osmoregulation;
  • abscisic acid.

Abstract: To study the involvement of potassium in wood formation, poplar plants (Populus tremula L. ×Populus tremuloides Michx.) were grown over a period of one growing season, under different potassium regimes. Seasonal changes in cambial potassium content, osmotic potential, and cambial activity correlated strongly throughout the season, increasing from spring to summer and decreasing from summer to autumn. Moreover, changing the potassium supply during the growing season affected the seasonal changes of these parameters in a similar way. Low potassium supply markedly reduced cambial activity, the number of expanding cambial cell derivatives, the seasonal rate of radial wood increment, and the vessel frequency. The possible effect of hormones on potassium-dependent cambial growth was investigated and revealed that abscisic acid (ABA) strongly decreased the potassium content within the cambial zone and reduced cambial activity, as well as the number of expanding cambial cell derivatives. In summary, our results indicate a key role for potassium in the regulation of cambial growth and wood formation due to its strong impact on osmoregulation in expanding cambial cells. They also demonstrate involvement of ABA in regulation of potassium-dependent cambial growth.