Kosola, K. R., D. I. Dickmann, and D. Parry. 2002. Carbohydrates in individual poplar fine roots- effects of root age and defoliation. Tree Physiology 22:741-746.
Late-summer starch accumulation in fine roots of poplars (Populus x canadensis Moench.) defoliated by gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) lagged behind that in fine roots of undefoliated trees. If starch concentration declines with age, defoliation-induced changes in root system age structure could be partly responsible for this difference. To test this hypothesis, we measured fine-root starch and soluble sugar concentrations in roots of known age from trees in defoliated and undefoliated plots. There was a significant interaction between the effects of defoliation and root type (white, brown, or dead) on fine root soluble sugar concentration because of the high concentration of soluble sugars in white roots from trees in undefoliated plots. Both root starch and soluble sugar concentrations were variable among individuals of each age class. The population frequency distributions for starch and soluble sugar concentrations were both right-skewed, and fit by exponential functions. These data are most consistent with direct defoliation effects on a labile and dynamic pool of carbohydrates in poplar fine roots, rather than indirect defoliation effects on root system age structure.
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