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Research article2004Peer reviewed

Interrelationships between water use and growth traits in biomass-producing willows

Wikberg J, Ogren E


Water use, drought response and growth were examined under controlled conditions in four interbreeding willow species from different geographical origins (two clones of Salix viminalis L., one clone of S. viminalis x S. schwerenii E. Wolf and one clone of S. purpurea L.). The levels of soil water depletion that plants could sustain without wilting varied markedly between the clones. The level of drought resistance expressed this way was positively related to resistance to xylem cavitation, negatively related to the maximum stomatal conductance, and positively related to early stomatal closure. The rate of stomatal closure, however, was negatively related to the resistance to xylem cavitation. Prior to drought, there were no significant differences between leaf-specific hydraulic conductances of the clones when whole plants were considered. However, there were differences if the roots and shoots were considered separately. Drought resistance was negatively related to maximum growth yields. This is probably because resources were diverted away from leaf production to the production of denser wood (wood density was positively related to cavitation resistance), and, for one clone, to the growth of a larger root system. In addition, because the level of drought resistance was negatively related to the maximum stomatal conductance, growth may have been adversely affected as a result of reduced photosynthesis. Given its high water extraction ability, one of the clones started to wilt sooner than expected, although only lateral shoots were affected. This appeared to indicate a strategy of sacrificing expendable shoots

Published in

Trees - Structure and Function
2004, Volume: 18, number: 1, pages: 70-76