Diverging drought resistance of scots pine provenances revealed by infrared thermography

Hannes Seidel, Christian Schunk, Michael Matiu, Annette Menzel

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31 Scopus citations


With recent climate changes, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests have been affected by die-off events. Assisted migration of adapted provenances mitigates drought impacts and promotes forest regeneration. Although suitable provenances are difficult to identify by traditional ecophysiological techniques, which are time consuming and invasive, plant water status can be easily assessed by infrared thermography. Thus, we examined the stress responses of 2-year-old potted Scots pine seedlings from six provenances (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain) based on two thermal indices (crop water stress index and stomatal conductance index). Both indices were derived from infrared images during a 6-week drought/control treatment in a greenhouse in the summer of 2013. The pines were monitored during the stress and subsequent recovery period. After controlling for fluctuating environmental conditions, soil moisture or treatment-specific water supply was the most important driver of drought stress. The stress magnitude and response to soil water deficit depended on provenance. Under moderate drought conditions, pines from western and eastern Mediterranean provenances (Bulgaria, France, and Spain) expressed lower stress levels than those from both continental provenances (Germany and Poland). Moreover, pines from continental provenances were less resilient (showed less recovery after the stress period) than Mediterranean pines. Under extreme drought, all provenances were equally stressed with almost no significant differences in their thermal indices. Provenance-specific differences in drought resistance, which are associated with factors such as summer precipitation at the origin of Scots pine seedlings, may offer promising tracks of adaptation to future drought risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1247
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberAUG2016
StatePublished - 31 Aug 2016


  • Aboveground dimensions
  • CWSI
  • Climate change
  • Thermal imaging
  • Thermal indices
  • Tissue temperature
  • Water supply


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