Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Global warming induces female cuttings of Populus cathayana to allocate more biomass, C and N to aboveground organs than do male cuttings

Xiao Xu A D , Guoquan Peng B , Chengchun Wu B and Qingmin Han C

A Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637002, China.

B Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PO Box 416, Chengdu 610041, China.

C Plant Production Laboratory, Department of Plant Ecology, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 58(7) 519-526
Submitted: 6 May 2010  Accepted: 22 July 2010   Published: 27 October 2010


We investigated differences between the sexes of a dioecious species, Populus cathayana Rehd, in biomass accumulation, biomass allocation, and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentrations under elevated temperature treatments. Cuttings were subjected to three temperature regimes (control, +2°C and +4°C, respectively) in closed-top chambers. Compared with the control treatment, warming significantly increased the net photosynthesis rate, height growth, leaf dry mass, stem dry mass (SM), root dry mass (RM) and total dry mass (TM), and resulted in a higher aboveground : belowground dry mass ratio (AB) in all individuals of both sexes, except in males under the +2°C warming treatment. Furthermore, warming decreased the concentration of C in the stems in both sexes, and increased the concentration of N in the leaves of females, and consequently, resulted in a lower C : N ratio in the leaves of female cuttings than in those of male cuttings. Also, further differences between males and females were detected. In the warming treatments, females exhibited significantly higher values of SM, RM, TM and AB, and lower RM : TM and RM : foliage area ratios than did the males. However, no significant differences in these traits between the two sexes were detected under ambient temperature. Our results indicated that allocation of biomass, and the concentrations of C and N in males and females are greatly affected by an elevated temperature, and that warming benefits females, which accumulate and allocate more biomass to aboveground organs than do the males.


Agren J 1988 Sexual differences in biomass and nutrient allocation in the dioecious Rubus chamaemorus. Ecology 69 962 973 doi:10.2307/1941251

Allen GA Antos JA 1988 Relative reproductive effort in males and females of the dioecious shrub Oemleria cerasiformis. Oecologia 76 111 118

An Y Wan S Zhou X Subedar AA Wallace LL Luo Y 2005 Plant nitrogen concentration, use efficiency, and contents in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem under experimental warming. Global Change Biology 11 1733 1744

Callaway RM Delucia EH Thomas EM Schlesinger WH 1994 Compensatory responses of CO2 exchange and biomass allocation and their effects on the relative growth rate of ponderosa pine in different CO2 and temperature regimes. Oecologia 98 159 166 doi:10.1007/BF00341468

Chen DX Coughenour MB Eberts D Thullen JS 1994 Interactive effects of CO2 enrichment and temperature on the growth of dioecious Hydrilla verticillata. Environmental and Experimental Botany 34 345 353 doi:10.1016/0098-8472(94)90016-7

Darwin C (1877) ‘The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species.’ (John Murray: London)

Davidson RL 1969 Effect of root/leaf temperature differentials on root/shoot ratios in some pasture grasses and clover. Annals of Botany 33 561 569

Dawson TE Bliss LC 1989 Patterns of water use and the tissue water relations in the dioecious shrub, Salix arctica: the physiological basis for habitat partitioning between the sexes. Oecologia 79 332 343

Dawson TE Ehleringer JR 1993 Gender-specific physiology, carbon isotope discrimination, and habitat distribution in boxelder, Acer negundo. Ecology 74 798 815 doi:10.2307/1940807

Delph LF 1990 Sex-differential resource allocation patterns in the subdioecious shrub Hebe subalpina. Ecology 71 1342 1351 doi:10.2307/1938271

Delucia EH Heckathorn SA Day TA 1992 Effects of soil temperature on growth, biomass allocation and resource acquisition of Andropogon gerardii Vitman. New Phytologist 120 543 549 doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1992.tb01804.x

Domisch T Finér L Lehto T 2001 Effects of soil temperature on biomass and carbohydrate allocation in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings at the beginning of the growing season. Tree Physiology 21 465 472

Freeman DC Klikoff LG Harper KT 1976 Differental resource utilization by sexes of dioecious plants. Science 193 597 599

Gedroc JJ McConnaghay KDM Coleman JS 1996 Plasticity in root/shoot partitioning: optimal, ontogenetic, or both? Functional Ecology 10 44 50 doi:10.2307/2390260

Hawkins BJ Kiiskila SBR Henry G 1999 Biomass and nutrient allocation in Douglas-fir and amabilis fir seedlings: influence of growth rate and temperature. Tree Physiology 19 59 63

Hemborg ÅM Karlsson PS 1999 Sexual differences in biomass and nutrient allocation of first-year Silene dioica plants. Oecologia 118 453 460

Hobbie EA Olszyk DM Rygiewicz PT Tingey DT Johnson MG 2001 Foliar nitrogen concentrations and natural abundance of 15N suggest nitrogen allocation patterns of Douglas-fir and mycorrhizal fungi during development in elevated carbon dioxide concentration and temperature. Tree Physiology 21 1113 1122

Holopainen JK Kainulainen P 2004 Reproductive capacity of the grey pine aphid and allocation response of Scots pine seedlings across temperature gradients: a test of hypotheses predicting outcomes of global warming. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34 94 102

Hultine KR Bush SE West AG Ehleringer JR 2007 Population structure, physiology and ecohydrological impacts of dioecious riparian tree species of western North America. Oecologia 154 85 93 doi:10.1007/s00442-007-0813-0

IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I. In ‘The 4th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’. (Eds S Solomon, D Qin, M Manning, Z Chen, M Marquis, KB Averyt, M Tignor, HL Miller) p. 996. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Kellomäki S Wang KY 1997 Effects of long-term CO2 and temperature elevation on crown nitrogen distribution and daily photosynthetic performance of Scots pine. Forest Ecology and Management 99 309 326 doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(97)00059-5

King JS Pregitzer KS Zak DR 1999 Clonal variation in above- and below-ground growth responses of Populus tremuloides Michaux: influence of soil warming and nutrient availability. Plant and Soil 217 119 130 doi:10.1023/A:1004560311563

Korpelainen H 1992 Patterns of resource allocation in male and female plants of Rumex acetosa and R. acetosella. Oecologia 89 133 139 doi:10.1007/BF00319025

Landhäusser SM Wein RW Lange P 1996 Gas exchange and growth of three arctic tree-line tree species under different soil temperature and drought preconditioning regimes. Canadian Journal of Botany 74 686 693 doi:10.1139/b96-087

Li C Xu G Zang R Korpelainen H Berninger F 2007 Sex-related differences in leaf morphological and physiological responses in Hippophae rhamnoides along an altitudinal gradient. Tree Physiology 27 399 406

Lin G Ehleringer JR Rygiewicz PT Johnson MG Tingey DT 1999 Elevated CO2 and temperature impacts on different components of soil CO2 efflux in Douglas-fir terracosms. Global Change Biology 5 157 168

Linderholm HW 2006 Growing season changes in the last century. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 137 1 14 doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2006.03.006

Link SO Smith JL Halvorson JJ Bolton H 2003 A reciprocal transplant experiment within a climatic gradient in a semiarid shrub-steppe ecosystem: effects on bunchgrass growth and reproduction, soil carbon, and soil nitrogen. Global Change Biology 9 1097 1105 doi:10.1046/j.1365-2486.2003.00647.x

Marcelis LFM 1994 Effect of fruit-growth, temperatrue and irradiance on biomass allocation to the vegetative parts of cucumber. Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 42 115 123

Matsumoto K Ohta T Irasawa M Nakamura T 2003 Climate change and extension of the Ginkgo biloba L. growing season in Japan. Global Change Biology 9 1634 1642

McDowell SCL McDowell NG Marshall JD Hultine K 2000 Carbon and nitrogen allocation to male and female reproduction in Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca, Pinaceae). American Journal of Botany 87 539 546 doi:10.2307/2656598

Olszyk DM Johnson MG Tingey DT Rygiewicz PT Wise C VenEss E Benson A Storm MJ King R 2003 Whole-seedling biomass allocation, leaf area, and tissue chemistry for Douglas-fir exposed to elevated CO2 and temperature for 4 years. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research 33 269 278

Peng YY Dang QL 2003 Effects of soil temperature on biomass production and allocation in seedlings of four boreal tree species. Forest Ecology and Management 180 1 9

Penuelas J Boada M 2003 A global change-induced biome shift in the Montseny mountains (NE Spain). Global Change Biology 9 131 140 doi:10.1046/j.1365-2486.2003.00566.x

Pickering CM Arthur JM 2003 Patterns of resource allocation in the dioecious alpine herb Aciphylla simplicifolia (Apiaceae). Austral Ecology 28 566 574 doi:10.1046/j.1442-9993.2003.01313.x

Renner SS Ricklefs RE 1995 Dioecy and its correlates in the flowering plants. American Journal of Botany 82 596 606 doi:10.2307/2445418

Sardans J Peńuelas J Estiarte M Prieto P 2008 Warming and drought alter C and N concentration, allocation and accumulation in a Mediterranean shrubland. Global Change Biology 14 2304 2316 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01656.x

Soussana JF Casella E Loiseau P 1996 Long term effects of CO2 enrichment and temperature increase on a temperate grassland sward. II. Plant nitrogen budgets and root fraction. Plant and Soil 182 110 114

Stoneman GL Dell B 1993 Growth of Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah) seedlings in a greenhouse in response to shade and soil temperature. Tree Physiology 13 239 252

Tingey DT Mckane RB Olszyk DM Johnson MG Rygiewicz PT Lee EH 2003 Elevated CO2 and temperature alter nitrogen allocation in Douglas-fir. Global Change Biology 9 1038 1050

Wallace CS Rundel PW 1979 Sexual dimorphism and resource allocation in male and female shrubs of Simmondsia chinensis. Oecologia 44 34 39 doi:10.1007/BF00346394

Wang X 2007 Gender-specific flowering responses to day length in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia at different temperatures. Sexual Plant Reproduction 20 45 50 doi:10.1007/s00497-007-0043-y

Wang X Curtis PS 2001 Gender-specific response of Populus tremuloides to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. New Phytologist 150 675 684 doi:10.1046/j.1469-8137.2001.00138.x

Weih M Karlsson PS 2001 Growth response of Mountain birch to air and soil temperature: is increasing leaf-nitrogen content an acclimation to lower air temperature. New Phytologist 150 147 155 doi:10.1046/j.1469-8137.2001.00078.x

Wilson JB 1988 A review of evidence on the control of shoot: root ratio, in relation to models. Annals of Botany 61 433 449

Xu X Yang F Xiao X Zhang S Korpelainen H Li C 2008 a Sex-specific responses of Populus cathayana to drought and elevated temperatures. Plant, Cell & Environment 31 850 860

Xu X Peng G Wu C Korpelainen H Li C 2008 b Drought inhibits photosynthetic capacity more in females than in males of Populus cathayana. Tree Physiology 28 1751 1759

Export Citation Cited By (1)