DDD Conference

Prof. Anna Sala

The Mechanistic Link between Stored Non-Structural Carbohydrates and Plant Water Relations

University of Montana, USA

The frequency and severity of droughts is expected to increase with climate change and to cause plant drought stress. Such stress could potentially lead to drought-induced mortality, changes in plant community composition, and vegetation shifts. Drought stress limits plant water transport and carbon assimilation, potentially causing plant hydraulic dysfunction and depletion of stored non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), both of which have been invoked as drivers of plant drought mortality. Empirical and modelling evidence indicates that the interaction between plant hydraulic function and stored non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) is critical to understand plant drought responses and survival to drought. However, the mechanistic nature of this interaction is not well understood, which hinders our understanding and ability to predict species- and ecotype-specific responses to drought. In this talk I will summarize our current knowledge of the mechanistic link between NSC storage and plant water relations and responses to drought, including our own experimental evidence showing negative consequences of stored NSC depletion on osmoregulation. I will also explore the degree to which NSC storage becomes a priority carbon sink with consequences on plant carbon allocation and plant life history strategies.

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