Variation in the performance and thermostability of photosystem II in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) provenances is influenced more by acclimation than by adaptation
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The assisted migration of resistant seeds and seedlings may be a key to mitigating the effects of climate change on the productivity and composition of forest ecosystems. These efforts require an understanding of the intraspecific variability in the response of trees to extreme weather events such as heat waves. In this study, we assessed the geographical patterns of photosystem II (PSII) performance and thermostability in European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and whether intraspecific differences are associated with climate of origin. Two provenance trials with starkly contrasting climates were used for this study. Leaves were sampled both before and after natural heat stress exposure. Rapid chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics was used to evaluate PSII performance and PSII thermostability after simulated heat stress. The performance of PSII at 30 °C, which is still considered a non-damaging temperature, was generally slightly better at the warmer location than at the colder location. The populations originating closer to the Slovenian refugium, as well as those growing closer to their site of origin, showed better performance of PSII but not greater thermostability. The effect of simulated heat stress was much stronger in the colder plots compared to the warmer plots, but only for previously stressed trees. Likewise, we found indicators of geographical patterns of thermotolerance as well as relationships between thermotolerance and climate of origin mostly for trees exposed to natural heat. While the origin of provenances partly explained the variation among provenances, acclimation driven by climate played a major role in the response to heat stress. In beech, PSII seems to have a potential for coping with high temperature.
KeywordsHeat stress Thermotolerance Fagus sylvatica L. Chlorophyll a fluorescence JIP test Provenance trial Intraspecific variability
Maximum quantum yield of PSII photochemistry
Photosynthetic performance index
Severity of thermal stress, the ratio between the Fv/Fm measured after simulated heat stress and the value of Fv/Fm measured under non-stressing temperature
The temperature at which Fv/Fm declines 15% from the maximum value
The critical temperature inducing abrupt changes in F0
The provenance experiment has been established through the realization of the project European Network for the Evaluation of the Genetic Resources of Beech for Appropriate Use in Sustainable Forestry Management (AIR3-CT94-2091) under the coordination of H.-J. Muhs and G. von Wühlisch. The experimental plots Tále and Zbraslav were established by L. Paule and V. Hynek, respectively. The study was supported by research grants of the Slovak Research and Development Agency APVV-0135-12, by the project of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic—institutional support MZE-RO0118 and by the Research Agency of the MESRS of the SR, Project No. ITMS 26220220066 (20%). International cooperation in the study of physiological variability of beech provenances was established within the COST action FP1202 Strengthening conservation: a key issue for adaptation of marginal/peripheral populations of forest trees to climate change in Europe (MaP-FGR).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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