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Journal Articles Trees - Structure and Function Year : 2019

Water-stressed or not, the mechanical acclimation is a priority requirement for trees

Abstract

Key messagePeriodic bending of young poplars increase the wood production whatever their hydric status; especially in the most highly stressed zones; improving the mechanical behaviour of the stem.AbstractThe ability of trees to acclimate the building of their structures to windy conditions under various hydric conditions is essential in the context of the predicted climate changes. In this study, we investigated the biomechanical responses of young poplar trees to periodic controlled bending stimulations that mimic the mechanical effect of trees growing under windy conditions. This treatment was conducted for 5months in well-watered conditions or under hydric stress. Results demonstrate the high impact of thigmomorphogenesis on growth processes, even under the water shortage. While axial growth was reduced by mechanical stimulations and hydric stress, radial growth was strongly increased by the periodic stem bending. The secondary growth was preferentially increased in the direction of highest longitudinal strains leading to the ovalisation of the cross-section. This ovalisation yielded 16%, regardless the hydric condition and generated a huge increase of the bending rigidity of the trees (+212%). Further, we observed a differential growth between the side growing under tension and the side growing under compression. A Finite Element model was built to investigate the mechanical benefits of the anisotropic cross-section shapes. This FE model enlightened the modulation of the spatial stress distribution that lead to a reduction of the stress in the weakest zones of the trunk; suggesting an improvement of the mechanical safety margin of wood. Thigmomorphogenesis acclimation appears as a complex and costly, but necessary process for the long-term mechanical support of the trees, even under hydric stress conditions.
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Dates and versions

hal-02019962 , version 1 (14-02-2019)

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Benjamin Niez, Jana Dlouha, Bruno Moulia, Eric Badel. Water-stressed or not, the mechanical acclimation is a priority requirement for trees. Trees - Structure and Function, 2019, 33 (1), pp.279-291. ⟨10.1007/s00468-018-1776-y⟩. ⟨hal-02019962⟩
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