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Resin duct size and density as ecophysiological traits in fire scars of Pseudotsuga menziesii and Larix occidentalis

Author(s): Estelle Arbellay, Markus Stoffel, Elaine Kennedy Sutherland, Kevin T. Smith, Donald A. Falk
Year Published: 2014

BackgroundandAims: Resin ducts (RDs) are features present in most conifer species as defence structures against pests and pathogens; however, little is known about RD expression in trees following fire injury. This study investigates changes in RD size and density in fire scars of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and western larch (Larixoccidentalis) as a means to evaluate the ecophysiological significance of traumatic resinosis for tree defence and survival. Methods: Transverse and tangential microsections were prepared for light microscopy and image analysis in order to analyse axial and radial RDs, respectively. Epithelial cells of RDs and fusiform rays associated with radial RDs were also examined. RDs were compared between normal xylem and wound xylem at four different section heights along the fire-injured stem. KeyResults: Following fire injury, P.menziesii axial RDs narrowed by 38-43% in the first year after injury, and the magnitude of this change increased with stem height. Larix occidentalis axial RDs widened by 46-50% in the second year after injury. Radial RDs were of equivalent size in P. menziesii, but widened by 162-214% in L. occidentalis. Fusiform rays were larger following fire injury, by 4-14% in P. menziesii and by 23-38% in L. occidentalis. Furthermore, axial RD density increased in both species due to the formation of tangential rows of traumatic RDs, especially in the first and second years after injury. However, radial RD density did not change significantly. Conclusions: These results highlight traumatic resinosis as a species-specific response. Pseudotsuga menziesii produce RDs of equivalent or reduced size, whereas L. occidentalis produce wider RDs in both the axial and radial duct system, thereby increasing resin biosynthesis and accumulation within the whole tree. Larix occidentalis thus appears to allocate more energy to defence than P. menziesii.

Citation: Arbellay, Estelle; Stoffel, Markus; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy; Smith, Kevin T.; Falk, Donald A. 2014. Resin duct size and density as ecophysiological traits in fire scars of Pseudotsuga menziesii and Larix occidentalis. Annals of Botany 114(5):973-980.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation
Ecosystem(s): Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 13015
FRAMES RCS number: 18611
Record updated: May 7, 2015