Earlywood vessels of Castanea sativa record temperature before their formation

Authors

  • Patrick Fonti,

    1. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Dendro-Sciences Research Unit, Subunit Palaeo-Ecology, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland;
    2. WSL, Sottostazione Sud delle Alpi, Via Belsoggiorno 22, CH-6504 Bellinzona-Ravecchia, Switzerland;
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  • Natalie Solomonoff,

    1. WSL, Sottostazione Sud delle Alpi, Via Belsoggiorno 22, CH-6504 Bellinzona-Ravecchia, Switzerland;
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  • Ignacio García-González

    1. Departamento de Botánica, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Escola Politécnica Superior – Campus de Lugo, E-27002 Lugo, Spain
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Author for correspondence: Patrick Fonti Tel: +41 44 739 22 85 Fax: +41 44 739 22 15 Email: patrick.fonti@wsl.ch

Summary

  • • The aim of this study was to identify the climatic signal contained in the earlywood vessel size of the ring-porous chestnut (Castanea sativa) and the physiological processes involved in the underlying mechanisms.
  • • In order to assign the encoded signal to a specific physiological process, bud phenology and vessel formation were monitored along an elevation transect and chronologies of the size of the first row of earlywood vessels were retrospectively correlated with 40 yr of early spring temperatures.
  • • The first vessels appeared in late April to early May, after encoding both a negative temperature signal in February–March (during tree quiescence) and a positive temperature signal in early April (at the time of resumption of shoot growth).
  • • We hypothesize that February and March temperatures affect cambial sensitivity to auxin, preconditioning tree responses later in the season. Furthermore, April temperature is related to tree activation whereby new hormone production fosters vessel expansion.

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