Climate change projections forecast a warming and an associated change in the distribution and intensity of rainfalls. In the case of the Mediterranean area, this will be reflected in more frequent and severe drought periods in the future. Within a long-term (9 years) manipulation experiment, we aimed to study the effect of the soil drought (15-20% decreased soil moisture) and warming conditions (+1°C warming) projected for the next decades onto photosynthetic rates and water relations, and onto the antioxidant and anti-stress defense capacity of Erica multiflora, a common species of the dry Mediterranean coastal scrublands, in two different seasons, spring and summer. Results indicated that none of the applied treatments was severe enough to induce a pronounced negative response of photosynthesis in this species well adapted to harsh Mediterranean conditions, but also highlighted important seasonal differences. Photosynthesis was limited by photoinhibition in spring and by stomatal closure in summer. Isoprenoid emission and the level of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants were lower in summer than in spring, whereas pigment and total phenolic contents were generally higher in summer. Volatile isoprenoid emissions were largely inhibited by drought and were not stimulated by warming. Drought and warming increased the oxidation state of ascorbate and reduced total glutathione levels in spring, but not in summer. It is concluded that E. multiflora plants can adapt to prolonged drought and warming, at least at the level simulated by our manipulative experiment, through changes in the seasonal physiological and antioxidant response of leaves. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
- Climate change
- Photosynthetic pigments