Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effects of drought and waterlogging on ultrastructure of Scots pine and Norway spruce needles

  • 118 Accesses

  • 11 Citations


Effects of water stress on needle ultrastructure of 2-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and 5-year-old Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] seedlings were studied in greenhouse experiments. Drought stress was induced by leaving seedlings without watering, and waterlogging stress was produced by submerging the seedling containers in water. Needle samples for ultrastructural analyses were collected several times during the experiments, and samples for nutrient analyses at the end of the experiments. In drought stress, plasmolysis of mesophyll and transfusion parenchyma tissues, aggregation of chloroplast stroma and its separation from thylakoids and decreased size and abundance of starch grains in needles of both species were observed. The concentration of lipid bodies around the chloroplasts were detected in pine needles. Calcium and water concentrations in spruce needles were lower by the end of the experiments compared to controls. In waterlogging treatment, swelling of phloem cells in pine needles and large starch grains, slight swelling of thylakoids and increased translucency of plastoglobuli in chloroplasts of both species studied were observed. The phosphorus concentration in pine needles was higher while phosphorus, calcium and magnesium concentrations in spruce needles were lower in the waterlogging treatments compared to controls. Typical symptoms induced by drought stress, e. g. aggregation of chloroplast stroma and its separation from thylakoids, were detected, but, in waterlogging stress, ultrastructural symptoms appeared to be related to the developing nutrient imbalance of needles.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Chapin III FS (1991) Effects of multiple environmental stresses on nutrient availability and use. In: Mooney HA, Winner WE, Pell EJ (eds) Response of plants to multiple stresses. Academic Press, San Diego, New York, pp 67–88

  2. Fink S (1988) Histological and cytological changes caused by air pollutants and other abiotic factors. In: Schulte-Hostede S, Darral NM, Blank LW, Wellburn AR (eds) Air pollution and plant metabolism, Elsevier, London, pp 36–54

  3. Fink S (1989) Pathological anatomy of conifer needles subjected to gaseous air pollutants or mineral deficiencies. Aquilo Ser Bot 27: 1–6

  4. Giles KL, Beardsell MF, Cohen D (1974) Cellular and ultrastructural changes in mesophyll and bundle sheath cells of maize in response to water stress. Plant Physiol 54: 208–212

  5. Halonen O, Tulkki H, Derome J (1983) Nutrient analysis methods. Metsäntutkimuslaitoksen Tiedonantoja 121: 1–28

  6. Holopainen T, Nygren P (1989) Effects of potassium deficiency and simulated acid rain, alone and in combination, on the ultrastructure of Scots pine needles. Can J For Res 16: 1402–1411

  7. Holopainen T, Anttonen S, Wulff A, Palomäki V, Kärenlampi L (1992) Comparative evaluation of the effects of gaseous pollutants, acidic deposition and mineral deficiences: structural changes in cells of forest plants. Agric Ecosystems Environ 42: 365–398

  8. Jackson MB, Drew MC (1984) Effects of flooding on growth and metabolism of herbaceous plants. In: Kozlowski TT (ed) Flooding and plant growth. Academic Press, Orlando, pp 47–128

  9. Kainulainen P, Oksanen J, Palomäki V, Holopainen JK, Holopainen T (1992) Effect of drought and water-logging stress on needle monoterpenes of Picea abies (L.) Karst. Can J Bot 70: 1613–1616

  10. Kärenlampi L, Houpis JLJ (1986) Structural conditions of mesophyll cells of Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum after SO2 fumigation. Can J For Res 16: 1381–1385

  11. Kozlowski TT (1986) Soil aeration and growth of forest trees (Review article). Scand J For Res 1: 113–123

  12. Kozlowski TT, Pallardy SG (1984) Effect of flooding on water, carbohydrate and mineral relations. In: Kozlowski TT (ed) Flooding and plant growth. Academic Press, Orlando, pp 165–193

  13. Kozlowski TT, Kramer PJ, Pallardy SG (1991) The physiological ecology of woody plants. Academic Press, San Diego

  14. Malhotra SS (1976) Effects of sulphur dioxide on biochemical activity and ultrastructural organization of pine needle chloroplasts. New Phytol 76: 239–245

  15. Marschner H (1986) Mineral nutrition in higher plants. Academic Press, London

  16. Mengel K, Kirkby EA (1979) Principles of plant nutrition. International Potash Institute, Bern

  17. Saastamoinen T, Holopainen T (1989) Needle and root responses of small Pinus sylvestris seedlings exposed to sulphur dioxide and simulated acid rain. Scand J For Res 4: 273–283

  18. Schulze E-D (1991) Water and nutrient interactions with plant water stress. In: Mooney HA, Winner WE, Pell EJ (eds) Response of plants to multiple stresses. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 89–101

  19. Schurr U, Jahnke S (1991) Effects of water stresses and rapid changes in sink water potential on phloem transports in Ricinus. In: Bonnemain JL, Delrot S, Lucas WJ, Dainty J (eds) Recent advances in phloem transport and assimilate compartmentation. Ouest Editions, France, pp 294–300

  20. Sinclair WA, Ludlow MM (1985) Who taught plants thermodynamics? The unfulfilled potential of water potential. Aust J Plant Physiol 12: 213–217

  21. Sutinen S (1987) Ultrastructure of mesophyll cells of spruce needles exposed to O3 alone and together with SO2. Eur J For Path 17: 362–368

  22. Sutinen S, Skärby L, Wallin G, Sellden G (1990) Long-term exposure of Norway spruce, Picea abies (L.) Karst., to ozone in open-top chambers. New Phytol 115: 345–355

  23. Vapaavuori E, Nurmi A (1982) Chlorophyll-protein complexes in Salix sp. Àquatica gigantea' under strong and weak light. II. Effects of water stress on the chlorophyll-protein complexes and chloroplast ultrastructure. Plant Cell Physiol 23: 791–801

  24. Vapaavuori E, Korpilahti E, Nurmi H (1984) Photosynthetic rate in willow leaves during water stress and changes in the chloroplast ultrastructure with special reference to crystal inclusions. J Exp Bot 35: 306–321

  25. Wample RL, Davis RW (1983) Effects of flooding on starch accumulation in chloroplasts of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) Plant Physiol 73: 195–198

  26. Wellburn AR, Majernik O, Wellburn AM (1972) Effects of SO2 and NO2 polluted air upon the ultrastructure of chloroplasts. Environ Pollut 3: 37–49

  27. Whatley JM (1971) Ultrastructural changes in chloroplasts of Phaseolus vulgaris during development under conditions of nutrient deficiency. New Phytol 70: 725–742

  28. Williams S (ed) (1984) Official methods of analyses. Association of Official Analytical Chemistry, Arlington, Virginia

  29. Zwiazek JJ, Shay JM (1987) Fluoride and drought-induced structural alterations of mesophyll and guard cells in cotyledons of jack pine (Pinus banksiana). Can J Bot 65: 2310–2317

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Virpi Palomäki.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Palomäki, V., Holopainen, J.K. & Holopainen, T. Effects of drought and waterlogging on ultrastructure of Scots pine and Norway spruce needles. Trees 9, 98–105 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00202129

Download citation

Key words

  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Picea abies
  • Drought
  • Waterlogging
  • Needle ultrastructure