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Keywords:

  • calorimetry;
  • growth capacity;
  • growth regulation;
  • respiration;
  • temperature response

Summary

  • Respiratory acclimation to growth temperature differs between species, but underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that respiratory acclimation of CO2 release is a consequence of growth regulation such that growth rates of young foliage of Eucalyptus spp. are similar at contrasting growth temperatures. Further, we tested whether such a response is affected by adaptation of Eucalyptus to different thermal environments via growth at different altitudes in the Australian Alps.
  • We employed calorimetric methods to relate rates of CO2 release (mainly from substrate oxidation) and rates of O2 reduction to conservation of energy. Temperature responses of these processes provided insight into mechanisms that control energy conservation and expenditure, and helped define ‘instantaneous enthalpic growth capacity’ (CapG).
  • CapG increased with altitude, but was counteracted by other factors in species adapted to highland habitats. The acclimation response was partly driven by changes in respiratory capacity (inline image), and partly by more pronounced dynamic responses of CO2 release inline image to measurement temperature. We observed enhanced temperature sensitivity of O2 reduction inline image at higher altitudes.
  • Adaptation to growth temperature included differences in respiration and growth capacities, but there was little evidence that Eucalyptus species vary in metabolic flexibility.