Physiological girdling of pine trees via phloem chilling: proof of concept
Quantifying below-ground carbon (C) allocation is particularly difficult as methods usually disturb the root– mycorrhizal–soil continuum. We reduced C allocation below ground of loblolly pine trees by: (1) physically girdling trees and (2) physiologically girdling pine trees by chilling the phloem. Chilling reduced cambium temperatures by approximately 18 °C. Both methods rapidly reduced soil CO2 efflux, and after approximately 10 days decreased net photosynthesis (Pn), the latter indicating feedback inhibition. Chilling decreased soil-soluble C, indicating that decreased soil CO2 efflux may have been mediated by a decrease in root C exudation that was rapidly respired by microbes. These effects were only observed in late summer/early autumn when above-ground growth was minimal, and not in the spring when above-ground growth was rapid. All of the effects were rapidly reversed when chilling was ceased. In fertilized plots, both chilling and physical girdling methods reduced soil CO2 efflux by approximately 8%. Physical girdling reduced soil CO2 efflux by 26% in non-fertilized plots. This work demonstrates that phloem chilling provides a non-destructive alternative to reducing the movement of recent photosynthate below the point of chilling to estimate C allocation below ground on large trees.
Requesting Print Publications
Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.
Please make any requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
- Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.