Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Genetic variation in leaf traits and gas exchange response to vapor pressure deficit in two contrasting conifer species

Citation

Wei, Xiaojing; Benowicz, Andy; Sebastian-Azcona, Jaime; Thomas, Barbara (2022), Genetic variation in leaf traits and gas exchange response to vapor pressure deficit in two contrasting conifer species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dncjsxm1d

Abstract

1. Mechanistically predicting the evolutionary response of tree species to climate change requires an understanding of genetic variation in relevant traits. Here we compared the phenotypic and genetic variation in the Leaf Economics Spectrum (LES) traits and the response of gas exchange to vapor pressure deficit (VPD) in lodgepole pine (Pico) and white spruce (Pigl), an early and a late successional species dominating the boreal forests of western Canada. 2. We measured gas exchange, foliar nitrogen, and lamina mass to area ratio in 697 app. 30-year-old trees in two field progeny trials. We analyzed the response of gas exchange rates to VPD using a novel quantitative genetic model, the function-valued trait approach. 3. Pico showed greater phenotypic variation in the LES traits and greater genetic variation in photosynthetic rate than Pigl, but the species showed no significant difference in their phenotypic correlations between the LES traits. Pico showed a less sensitive stomatal response to VPD than Pigl and no significant genetic variation in stomatal sensitivity. In contrast, Pigl showed a positive correlation between the genetic values of stomatal sensitivity to VPD and stomatal conductance under low VPD. 4. Our study region is projected to see an increase in VPD with climate change; the less sensitive and genetically diverse stomatal response to VPD in Pico could make this species more vulnerable to climate change-induced droughts.