Response of photosynthetic characteristics and non-structural carbohydrate accumulation of Betula ermanii seedlings to drought stress.


Ma Y(1)(2), Su BL(1), Han YG(2), Wu XH(1)(2), Zhou WM(2), Wang QW(2), Zhou L(2), Yu DP(2).
Author information:
(1)College of Life Science and Bioengineering, Shenyang University, Shenyang 110044, China.
(2)Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shen-yang 110016, China.


We explored the effects of drought stress on photosynthetic characteristics and non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) accumulation of the timberline tree species Betula ermanii in Changbai Mountain with a drought control experiment. The results showed that drought significantly reduced the net photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance, but increased water use efficiency (WUE) of B. ermanii seedlings. Drought dramatically improved the contents of soluble sugar and total NSC in leaves, barks, stems, and roots of B. ermanii seedlings, but significantly reduced their starch content. The stomatal conductance, photosynthetic rate and WUE decreased rapidly as the drought continued, whereas the contents of soluble sugar, starch and NSC increased and then declined. At the end of the experiment, 90% of the leaves turned yellow, and the ratios of soluble sugar to starch in the stems, barks and roots under the drought treatment were significantly higher than those in the control. These results demonstrated that B. ermanii might be a drought-avoidance species that could reduce water loss by rapidly reducing stomatal conductance and improving WUE under drought stress. B. ermanii might have evolved priority storage strategy to cope with water deficit through improving the content of soluble sugar in organs and increasing the transformation rate between starch and sugar. With the extension of drought stress, seedlings tended to die, since water stress might exceed the threshold of the plant self-regulation capacity. However, the content of NSC in organs did not decrease, suggesting that the death of B. ermanii under drought stress might not be caused by carbon starvation.