Annals of Forest Science

, 75:93 | Cite as

Xylogenesis of compression and opposite wood in mountain pine at a Mediterranean treeline

  • Caterina Palombo
  • Patrick FontiEmail author
  • Bruno Lasserre
  • Paolo Cherubini
  • Marco Marchetti
  • Roberto Tognetti
Research Paper


Key message

Comparisons between compression and opposite wood formation in prostrating Pinus mugo indicate that the secondary meristem can produce more tracheids with thicker walls by also increasing the number of contemporaneously differentiating cells, rather than only increasing the duration or the rate of cell formation.


Although cambium tissues within a stem experience the same climatic conditions, the resulting wood structure and properties can strongly differ. Assessing how meristem differently regulates wood formation to achieve different anatomical properties can help understanding the mechanisms of response and their plasticity.


We monitored the formation of compression (CW) and opposite (OW) wood within the same stems to understand whether achieved differences in wood structure are caused by modifications in the process of cell formation.


We collected weekly microcores of compression and opposite wood from the curved stem of ten treeline prostrating mountain pines (Pinus mugo Turra ssp. mugo) at the Majella massif in Central Italy.


Results indicate that cambium formed approximately 1.5 times more cells in CW than OW, despite that CW cell differentiation only extended 2 weeks longer and the residence time of CW cells in the wall-thickening phase was only 20% longer. Differences in their formation were thus mainly related to both the rates and the width of the enlarging and wall-thickening zones (i.e., the number of cells simultaneously under differentiation) and less to duration of cell formation.


We conclude that to achieve such a different wood structures, the efficiency of the secondary meristem, in addition of altered rate of cell division and differentiation, can also modify the width of the developing zones. Thus, deciphering what rules this width is important to link environmental conditions with productivity.


Mediterranean mountains Pinus mugo Turra subsp. mugo Xylogenesis Cell differentiation Intra-annual dynamics Majella massif 



We thank the Majella National Park and Ufficio Territoriale per la Biodiversità di Pescara (Carabinieri Forestali) for permission to access the sites and to core the trees. We are grateful to Luciano Schiazza, Giuseppe D’Ascanio, Gianni Blasioli, Roberto Lezzi (Caramanico Terme) for their support in fieldwork, and to Prof. Stefania Scippa and Dr. Dalila Trupiano for providing laboratory equipment, and Dr. Holger Gärtner and Prof. Fritz Schweingruber for valuable suggestions and fruitful discussion.


This study was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF (projects CLIMWOOD-160077 and LOTFOR-150205).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13595_2018_773_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26202 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Bioscienze e TerritorioUniversità degli Studi del MolisePescheItaly
  2. 2.Snow and Landscape ResearchWSL Swiss Federal Institute for ForestBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  3. 3.Dipartimento Agricoltura, Ambiente e AlimentiUniversità degli Studi del MoliseCampobassoItaly
  4. 4.The EFI Project Centre on Mountain Forests (MOUNTFOR), Edmund Mach FoundationSan Michele all’AdigeItaly

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