Short-term impacts of nutrient manipulations on leaf gas exchange and biomass partitioning in contrasting 2-year-old Pinus taeda clones during seedling establishment
We conducted a 1-year greenhouse experiment to assess the impact of nutrient manipulations on seedling growth, biomass partitioning, and leaf gas exchange between two fast growing Pinus taeda clones that differed in growth efficiency. After 1 year we observed significant treatment and treatment by clone effects on growth, biomass partitioning, and gas exchange parameters. Fertilization increased total seedling biomass 18% primarily through an increase in foliage and coarse-roots. Clones did not differ in total seedling biomass, however, clone 85 produced more stem than clone 93 leading to 37% greater stem:leaf, while clone 93 maintained more branch biomass. The logging residue treatment increased stem:leaf by 30%, but had no effect on total biomass or partitioning. Differences in leaf morphology resulted in significantly greater canopy leaf area in clone 93 than clone 85. Increased foliar N concentration from fertilization had only minor effects on specific photosynthesis under saturating light (ASat), but lowered stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration (E), and internal to external CO2 concentration ratio (Ci/Ca) as well as improved water use efficiency (WUE) independently of genotype. When gas exchange data was scaled to the canopy level both genotypes achieved similar canopy level CO2 assimilation rates, but our data suggests they did this by different means. Although we did see a small effect of nutrient limitations in total canopy photosynthesis under saturating light (ACanopy), ASat, and total leaf area (TLA), our foliar N concentration ([N]) indicated that our level of logging residue incorporation did not cause [N] to decrease below sufficiency limits. From a practical standpoint, a better understanding of strategies for capturing and partition C may lead to better selection of clonal material, thereby, optimizing productivity.
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