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Isoprene Emissions from Downy Oak under Water Limitation during an Entire Growing Season: What Cost for Growth?

Abstract : Increases in the production of terpene-and phenolic-like compounds in plant species under abiotic stress conditions have been interpreted in physiological studies as a supplementary defense system due to their capacity to limit cell oxidation. From an ecological perspective however, these increases are only expected to confer competitive advantages if they do not imply a significant cost for the plant, that is, growth reduction. We investigated shifts of isoprene emissions, and to a lesser extent phenolic compound concentration, of Quercus pubescens Willd. from early leaf development to leaf senescence under optimal watering (control: C), mild and severe water stress (MS, SS). The impact of water stress was concomitantly assessed on plant physiological (chlorophyll fluorescence, stomatal conductance, net photosynthesis, water potential) functional (relative leaf water content, leaf mass per area ratio) and growth (aerial and root biomass) traits. Growth changes allowed to estimate the eventual costs related to the production of isoprene and phenolics. The total phenolic content was not modified under water stress whereas isoprene emissions were promoted under MS over the entire growing cycle despite the decline of P n by 35%. Under SS, isoprene emissions remained similar to C all over the study despite the decline of Pn by 47% and were thereby clearly uncoupled to Pn leading to an overestimation of the isoprene emission factor by 44%. Under SS, maintenance of isoprene emissions and phenolic compound concentration resulted in very significant costs for the plants as growth rates were very significantly reduced. Under MS, increases of isoprene emission and maintenance of phenolic compound concentration resulted in moderate growth reduction. Hence, it is likely that investment in isoprene emissions confers Q. pubescens an important competitive advantage during moderate but not severe periods of water scarcity. Consequences of this response for air quality in North Mediterranean areas are also discussed.
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Anne-Cyrielle Genard-Zielinski, Elena Ormeño, Christophe Boissard, Catherine Fernandez. Isoprene Emissions from Downy Oak under Water Limitation during an Entire Growing Season: What Cost for Growth?. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2014, 9 (e112418), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0112418⟩. ⟨hal-01242778⟩

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