Genetic effects on total phenolics, condensed tannins and non-structural carbohydrates in loblolly pine (**Pinus taeda** L.) needles
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Tree physiology. - Victoria
, p. 831-842
University of Antwerp
Carbon allocation to soluble phenolics (total phenolics, proanthocyanidins (PA)) and total non-structural carbohydrates (TNC; starch and soluble sugars) in needles of widely planted, highly productive loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) genotypes could impact stand resistance to herbivory, and biogeochemical cycling in the southeastern USA. However, genetic and growth-related effects on loblolly pine needle chemistry are not well characterized. Therefore, we investigated genetic and growth-related effects on foliar concentrations of total phenolics, PA and TNC in two different field studies. The first study contained nine different genotypes representing a range of genetic homogeneity, growing in a 2-year-old plantation on the coastal plain of North Carolina (NC), USA. The second study contained eight clones with different growth potentials planted in a 9-year-old clonal trial replicated at two sites (Georgia (GA) and South Carolina (SC), USA). In the first study (NC), we found no genetic effects on total phenolics, PA and TNC, and there was no relationship between genotype size and foliar biochemistry. In the second study, there were no differences in height growth between sites, but the SC site showed greater diameter (diameter at breast height (DBH)) and volume, most likely due to greater tree mortality (lower stocking) which reduced competition for resources and increased growth of remaining trees. We found a significant site × clone effect for total phenolics with lower productivity clones showing 2730% higher total phenolic concentrations at the GA site where DBH and volume were lower. In contrast to the predictions of growthdefense theory, clone volume was positively associated with total phenolic concentrations at the higher volume SC site, and PA concentrations at the lower volume GA site. Overall, we found no evidence of a trade-off between genotype size and defense, and genetic potential for improved growth may include increased allocation to some secondary metabolites. These results imply that deployment of more productive loblolly pine genotypes will not reduce stand resistance to herbivory, but increased production of total phenolics and PA associated with higher genotype growth potential could reduce litter decomposition rates and therefore, nutrient availability.