Adenylate control contributes to thermal acclimation of sugar maple fine‐root respiration in experimentally warmed soil

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


We investigated the occurrence of and mechanisms responsible for acclimation of fine‐root respiration of mature sugar maple (Acer saccharum) after 3+ years of experimental soil warming (+4 to 5 °C) in a factorial combination with soil moisture addition. Potential mechanisms for thermal respiratory acclimation included changes in enzymatic capacity, as indicated by root N concentration; substrate limitation, assessed by examining nonstructural carbohydrates and effects of exogenous sugar additions; and adenylate control, examined as responses of root respiration to a respiratory uncoupling agent. Partial acclimation of fine‐root respiration occurred in response to soil warming, causing specific root respiration to increase to a much lesser degree (14% to 26%) than would be expected for a 4 to 5 °C temperature increase (approximately 55%). Acclimation was greatest when ambient soil temperature was warmer or soil moisture availability was low. We found no evidence that enzyme or substrate limitation caused acclimation but did find evidence supporting adenylate control. The uncoupling agent caused a 1.4 times greater stimulation of respiration in roots from warmed soil. Sugar maple fine‐root respiration in warmed soil was at least partially constrained by adenylate use, helping constrain respiration to that needed to support work being performed by the roots.

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Plant, Cell & Environment