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Tropical forest lianas have greater non-structural carbohydrate concentrations in the stem xylem than trees

Article; Early Access

Signori-M�ller, C; Galbraith, D; Tavares, J; Reis, SM; Diniz, FC; Gilpin, M; Marimon, BS; van der Heijden, GMF; Borges, C; Cintra, BBL; Miao, SR; Morandi, PS; Nina, A; Yupayccana, CAS; Zevallos, MJM; Cosio, EG; Marimon, BH Jr; Mendoza, AM; Phillips, O; Salinas, N; Vasquez, R; Mencuccini, M; Oliveira, RS






Lianas (woody vines) are important components of tropical forests and are known to compete with host trees for resources, decrease tree growth and increase tree mortality. Given the observed increases in liana abundance in some forests and their impacts on forest function, an integrated understanding of carbon dynamics of lianas and liana-infested trees is critical for improved prediction of tropical forest responses to climate change. Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) are the main substrate for plant metabolism (e.g. growth, respiration), and have been implicated in enabling tree survival under environmental stress, but little is known of how they vary among life-forms or of how liana infestation impacts host tree NSC. We quantified stem xylem total NSC concentrations and its fractions (starch and soluble sugars) in trees without liana infestation, trees with >50% of the canopy covered by lianas, and the lianas infesting those trees. We hypothesized that (i) liana infestation depletes NSC storage in host trees by reducing carbon assimilation due to competition for resources; (ii) trees and lianas, which greatly differ in functional traits related to water transport and carbon uptake, would also have large differences in NSC storage. As water availability has a significant role in NSC dynamics of Amazonian tree species, we tested these hypotheses within a moist site in western Amazonia and a drier site in southern Amazonia. We did not find any difference in NSC, starch or soluble sugar concentrations between infested and non-infested trees, in either site. This result suggests that negative liana impact on trees may be mediated through mechanisms other than depletion of host tree NSC concentrations. We found lianas have higher stem NSC and starch than trees in both sites. The consistent differences in starch concentrations, a long-term NSC reserve, between life forms across sites reflect differences in lianas and trees carbon gain and use. Soluble sugar concentrations were higher in lianas than in trees in the moist site but indistinguishable between life forms in the dry site. The lack of difference in soluble sugars between trees and lianas in the dry site emphasizes the importance of this NSC fraction for the metabolism of plants occurring in water limited environments.Abstracts in Portuguese and Spanish are available in the supplementary material.


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