Deuterium labelling of roots provides evidence of deep water access and hydraulic lift by Pinus nigra in a Mediterranean forest of NE Spain

Josep Peñuelas, Iolanda Filella

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    Abstract

    We studied the tree access to deep water sources and the possibility of hydraulic lift from the deep roots of a Pinus nigra tree to the shallow soil layers in a Mediterranean forest of NE Spain. We also studied the use of hydraulically lifted water by neighboring trees, shrubs, and sprouts. We enriched the roots of a large P. nigra (10 m tall) with deuterium by accessing them from a below ground cave. During the next 3 days we measured stable deuterium isotopic composition of xylem sap, shoot predawn and midday water potentials, and the leaf δ13C and δ15N of the P. nigra tree, neighboring Quercus ilex ballota trees and sprouts, and Juniperus oxycedrus shrubs. The study was conducted both in dry summer and in wet spring. In summer, deuterated water absorbed by deep roots of P. nigra appeared in the stem water of neighboring plants and in surface soil. The most δD-enriched plant xylem sap was found in the enriched P. nigra tree, followed by the Q. ilex sprouts, the small Q. ilex trees and the surface soil (15 cm). All these trends disappeared in the wet spring season, when HDO only slightly appeared in the surface soil. The results show that the studied P. nigra tree accesses deep water source and conducts hydraulic lift in this Mediterranean forest in dry summer but not necessarily in wet spring. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)201-208
    JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
    Volume49
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003

    Keywords

    • δ C 13
    • δ N 15
    • Hydraulic lift
    • Juniperus oxycedrus
    • Quercus ilex ballota
    • Water potential

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