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Epicormic ontogeny in Quercus petraea constrains the highly plausible control of epicormic sprouting by water and carbohydrates

Morisset, J. B., Mothe, F., Bock, J., Bréda, N., Colin, F.
Annals of botany 2012 v.109 no.2 pp. 365-377
Quercus petraea, X-radiation, buds, carbohydrates, computed tomography, ontogeny, quantitative analysis, shoots, sprouting, trees, vegetation
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: There is increasing evidence that suppressed bud burst and thus epicormic shoot emergence (sprouting) are controlled by water–carbohydrate supplies to entire trees and buds. This direct evidence is still lacking for oak. In other respects, recent studies focused on sessile oak, Quercus petraea, have confirmed the important constraints of sprouting by epicormic ontogeny. The main objective of this paper was thus to provide provisional confirmation of the water–carbohydrate control and direct evidence of the ontogenic constraints by bringing together results already published in separate studies on water status and distribution of carbohydrates, and on accompanying vegetation and epicormics, which also quantify epicormic ontogeny. METHODS: This paper analyses results gained from a sessile oak experiment in which part of the site was free from fairly tall, dense accompanying vegetation. This experiment was initially focused on stand water status and more recently on the carbohydrate distribution of dominant trees. External observations of the epicormic composition and internal observations with X-ray computer tomography were undertaken on 60 and six trees, respectively. KEY RESULTS: Sprouting was more intense in the part of the stand free from accompanying vegetation and on upper trunk segments. A clear effect of epicormic ontogeny was demonstrated as well: the more epicormics a trunk segment bears, the more chances it had to bear sprouts. CONCLUSIONS: These results indirectly infer water–carbohydrate control and show direct evidence of constraints by epicormic ontogeny. These results have far-reaching consequences related to the quantification of all functions fulfilled by any type of epicormic structure in any part of the tree.