Climate change and the regulation of wood formation in trees by temperature
We observed the formation of latewood tracheids with narrow diameters and thick walls and the disappearance of stored starch around the cambium on the locally heated region of stems in evergreen conifer Chamaecyparis pisifera during winter cambial dormancy. Wood formation is controlled by cambial cell division, which determines the quantity and quality of wood. We investigated the factors that control cambial activity and the formation of new tracheids in locally heated stems of the evergreen conifer Chamaecyparis pisifera. Electric heating tape was wrapped around one side of the stem, at breast height, of two trees in 2013 and two in 2014. Pairs of stems were locally heated in winter, and small blocks were collected from heated and non-heated regions of stems. Cambial activity and levels of stored starch around the cambium were investigated by microscopy. Cambial reactivation and xylem differentiation occurred earlier in heated than in non-heated regions. New cell plates were formed after 14–18 days of heating. After a few layers of tracheids with large diameters and thin walls had formed, cell division and cell enlargement during differentiation were inhibited. Tracheids with narrow diameters and thick walls, defining those as latewood, were formed near the cambium, and finally, four to six layers of tracheids were induced. After cambial reactivation, amounts of stored starch started to decrease and starch disappeared completely from phloem and xylem cells that were located near the cambium during the differentiation of heated regions. Our results suggest that an increase in temperature induces the conversion of stored starch to soluble sugars for continuous cambial cell division and earlywood formation. By contrast, a shortage of stored starch might be responsible for inhibition of cambial activity and induction of the formation of latewood tracheids.