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Carbohydrate sources and sinks in woody plants

Botanical Review. 58(2): 107-222
Carbohydrate sources and sinks in woody plants
Each perennial woody plant is a highly integrated system of competing carbohydrate sinks (utilization sites). Internal competition for carbohydrates is shown by changes in rates of carbohydrate movement from sources to sinks and reversals in direction of carbohydrate transport as the relative sink strengths of various organs change. Most carbohydrates are produced in foliage leaves but some are synthesized in cotyledons, hypocotyls, buds, twigs, stems, flowers, fruits, and strobili. Although the bulk of the carbohydrate pool moves to sinks through the phloem, some carbohydrates are obtained by sinks from the xylem sap. Sugars are actively accumulated in the phloem and move passively to sinks along a concentration gradient. The dry weight of a mature woody plant represents only a small proportion of the photosynthate it produced. This discrepancy results not only from consumption of plant tissues by herbivores and shedding of plant parts, but also from depletion of carbohydrates by respiration, leaching, exudation, secretion, translocation to other plants through root grafts and mycorrhizae and losses to parasites. Large spatial and temporal variations occur in the use of reserve- and currently produced carbohydrates in metabolism and growth of shoots, stems, roots, and reproductive structures. A portion of the carbohydrate pool is diverted for production of chemicals involved in defense against fungi, herbivores, and competing plants. Woody plants accumulate carbohydrates during periods of excess production and deplete carbohydrates when the rate of utilization exceeds the rate of production. Stored carbohydrates play an important role in metabolism, growth, defense, cold hardiness, and postponement or prevention of plant mortality.

Accession: 002042929

DOI: 10.1007/bf02858600

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