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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Differences in Al sensitivity affect establishment of Populus genotypes on acidic forest land

Bohlenius, Henrik; Asp, Hakan; Hjelm, Karin


Forest lands hold great potential for Populus plantations, but in native boreal forests, soils normally have low pH and thus higher levels of aluminum ions (Al3+ and hydroxides). Aluminum (Al) is one of the major factors limiting plant growth on these soils by inhibiting root growth, thus reducing water and nutrient uptake and slowing growth. There is a large variation in Al resistance both among and within species. In this study, growth responses of greenhouse-grown hybrid aspen (P. tremula x tremuloides) and poplar (P. trichocarpa hybrids) were monitored in relation to changes in Al concentrations. In quartz sand, hybrid aspen was more tolerant to exogenous application of Al than P. trichocarpa hybrids. This difference in Al-tolerance was further confirmed by hematoxylin staining of the roots, with hybrid aspen displaying less staining after Al treatment than poplar clones. When planted on forest land with low pH, hybrid aspen increased growth after planting and showed low mortality. This was not the case for poplar clones; plant height decreased after planting and mortality increased. Together, our results suggest that differences in initial growth and survival on forest land among hybrid aspen and the tested poplar clones may be connected to differences in Al tolerance. Our findings that staining with hematoxylin can identify Al-tolerant Populus genotypes may help identify Al-tolerant genotypes suitable for forest land.

Published in

2018, Volume: 13, number: 9, article number: e0204461