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Drought tolerance of wild vs. cultivated tree species of almond and plum in the field.

07:00 EST 20th December 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Drought tolerance of wild vs. cultivated tree species of almond and plum in the field."

Trees of the genus Prunus produce some of the most widely consumed fruits globally. The combination of climate change-related warming and increased drought stress, scarcity of freshwater resources for irrigation, and increasing demands due to population growth, creates a need for increased drought tolerance in these tree species. Recently, we have shown in the field that a native wild pear species performs better under drought than two cultivated pear species. Here, a comparative field study was conducted in Israel to investigate traits associated with drought tolerance in almond (cultivated Prunus dulcis vs. wild Prunus ramonensis) and plum (cultivated Prunus domestica vs. wild Prunus ursina). Measurements of xylem embolism and shoot and root carbon reserves were done along a year, including seasonal drought in the wild, and a 35-days drought experiment in the orchards. Synchronous measurements of native xylem embolism and shoot water potential showed that cultivated and wild almond trees lost ~50% of hydraulic conductivity at -2.3 and -3.2 MPa, respectively. Micro CT images confirmed the higher embolism ratio in cultivated vs. wild almond, whereas the two plum species were similar. Dynamics of tissue concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates were mostly similar across species, with higher levels in cultivated vs. wild plum. Our results indicate an advantage for the wild almond over its cultivated relative in terms of xylem resistance to embolism, a major risk factor for trees under drought stress. This result is in line with our previous experiment on pear species. However, the opposite trends observed among the studied plum species mean that these trends cannot be generalized. It is possible that the potential for superior drought tolerance in wild tree species, relative to their cultivated relatives, is limited to wild species from dry and hot habitats.

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Name: Tree physiology
ISSN: 1758-4469
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