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Journal Articles Ecology and Evolution Year : 2017

Drivers of apoplastic freezing in gymnosperm and angiosperm branches


It is not well understood what determines the degree of supercooling of apoplastic sap in trees, although it determines the number and duration of annual freeze–thaw cycles in a given environment. We studied the linkage between apoplastic ice nucleation temperature, tree water status, and conduit size. We used branches of 10 gymnosperms and 16 angiosperms collected from an arboretum in Helsinki (Finland) in winter and spring. Branches with lower relative water content froze at lower temperatures, and branch water content was lower in winter than in spring. A bench drying experiment with Picea abies confirmed that decreasing branch water potential decreases apoplastic ice nucleation temperature. The studied angiosperms froze on average 2.0 and 1.8°C closer to zero Celsius than the studied gymnosperms during winter and spring, respectively. This was caused by higher relative water content in angiosperms; when branches were saturated with water, apoplastic ice nucleation temperature of gymnosperms increased to slightly higher temperature than that of angiosperms. Apoplastic ice nucleation temperature in sampled branches was positively correlated with xylem conduit diameter as shown before, but saturating the branches removed the correlation. Decrease in ice nucleation temperature decreased the duration of freezing, which could have an effect on winter embolism formation via the time available for gas escape during ice propagation. The apoplastic ice nucleation temperature varied not only between branches but also within a branch between consecutive freeze–thaw cycles demonstrating the stochastic nature of ice nucleation.

Dates and versions

hal-01663297 , version 1 (13-12-2017)



Anna Lintunen, Stefan Mayr, Yann Salmon, Hervé Cochard, Teemu Hölttä. Drivers of apoplastic freezing in gymnosperm and angiosperm branches. Ecology and Evolution, 2017, 8 (1), 11 p. ⟨10.1002/ece3.3665⟩. ⟨hal-01663297⟩
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