Influence of soil moisture level on metabolism of non-structural carbohydrates in Quercus robur leaves
The long-term increases in average temperature and intensification of droughts which characterise the current state of the Earth’s climate system have a negative impact on forest ecosystems and can lead to a decrease in their area and deterioration of the living conditions of their components. In the conditions of the Ukrainian Steppe an important environmental, antierosion, water-protective and soil-protective role belongs to the ravine forests. The most valuable component of the ravine forests is presented by natural populations of common oak (Quercus robur L.), which are able to tolerate the arid climate typical of the steppe region. But with global warming, the endurance of this species is changing. It is believed that a significant role in plant adaptation to drought and high temperatures may belong to non-structural carbohydrates. Therefore, it is important to study changes in the concentration of these substances in the leaves of this leading species under the action of adverse hydrothermal conditions. The article analyzes the content and dynamics of soluble sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose) and starch in the leaves of Quercus robur L. under different forest growth conditions of the ravine forest (hygromesophilic (CL2–3), mesoxerophilic (CL1) and xerophilic (CL0)). The research was conducted in the forest in the Viyskove area (steppe zone of Ukraine) in the thalweg and at different levels of slope of southern exposure. Content of glucose, fructose, sugar and starch in Quercus robur leaves was determined. It was found that when exposed to high temperatures and increasing water stress during the vegetation period in xerophilic (CL0–1) and mesoxerophilic (CL1) forest growth conditions, the concentration of both glucose and sucrose in the leaves of Q. robur increases and it becomes much higher than in conditions of more optimal water supply. At the same time, the disaccharide content increases more significantly than that of monosaccharide. The greatest amount of these sugars is observed in the driest months (July, August), when conditions for providing plants with water are the most stressful. When water stress grows the increase in concentration of glucose and sucrose is correlated with reduction of starch content. It has been found that the concentration of fructose in Q. robur leaves in droughty conditions of growing was comparable to more favourable conditions of moisture. In September, there is a decline in the content of all forms of non-structural carbohydrates in the leaves of plants of all variants compared to the previous month, especially in conditions of adverse water supply. Therefore, forest growth conditions do not affect the nature of the dynamics of soluble sugars and starch in the leaves of Q. robur, although they change their quantitative indicators. Based on the protective function of sugars under the action of stressors on plants, we can assume that in conditions of significant lack of moisture in the soil their accumulation in the leaves in areas with mesoxerophilic and xerophilic hygrotopes plays an important role in increasing Q. robur drought resistance.