New paper on the negative effects of low root temperatures on the water relations of temperate tree species

Yating Li and Günter Hoch published a new study in Plant Cell and Environment that reveals a relationship between the cold sensitivity of root water uptake and the elevational distribution limits of 16 temperate tree species. The water uptake and transport to leaves was quantified using deuterium pulse labelling of hydroponic seedlings exposed to cold roots but warm aboveground temperatures. With this experimental setup, it could be shown that the negative effect of cold, non-freezing root temperatures on water uptake and tree hydration increases the lower the natural elevational distribution limit of a species.  Restricted water supply at low temperatures might thus be a fundamental mechanism behind the cold growth limitation of trees. This paper is the first publication of Yating’s PhD thesis.

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