Water stress and recovery in the performance of two Eucalyptus globulus clones: Physiological and biochemical profiles

Barbara Correia, Marta Pinto Marijuan, Lucinda Neves, Ricard Brossa, Maria Celeste Dias, Armando Costa, Bruno B. Castro, Clara Araújo, Conceição Santos, Manuela Chaves, Glória Pinto

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Eucalyptus plantations are among the most productive forest stands in Portugal and Spain, being mostly used for pulp production and, more recently, as an energy crop. However, the region's Mediterranean climate, with characteristic severe summer drought, negatively affects eucalypt growth and increases mortality. Although the physiological response to water shortage is well characterized for this species, evidence about the plants' recovery ability remains scarce. In order to assess the physiological and biochemical response of Eucalyptus globulus during the recovery phase, two genotypes (AL-18 and AL-10) were submitted to a 3-week water stress period at two different intensities (18 and 25% of field capacity), followed by 1 week of rewatering. Recovery was assessed 1 day and 1 week after rehydration. Drought reduced height, biomass, water potential, NPQ and gas exchange in both genotypes. Contrarily, the levels of pigments, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters (Fv/Fm and φPSII), MDA and ABA increased. During recovery, the physiological and biochemical profile of stressed plants showed a similar trend: they experienced reversion of altered traits (MDA, ABA, E, gs, pigments), while other parameters did not recover (φPSII, NPQ). Furthermore, an overcompensation of CO2 assimilation was achieved 1 week after rehydration, which was accompanied by greater growth and re-establishment of oxidative balance. Both genotypes were tolerant to the tested conditions, although clonal differences were found. AL-10 was more productive and showed a more rapid and dynamic response to rehydration (namely in carotenoid content, φPSII and NPQ) compared to clone AL-18.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-592
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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