Needle browning and death in Pinus pumila in the alpine region of central Japan were not related to mechanical damage of cuticle and cuticle thickness

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The browning and death of needles of evergreen conifers in alpine regions occur mainly in early spring at the point where the shoot protrudes from the snowpack. They are thought to be caused by excessive transpiration due to mechanical damage to the cuticle or to a thinner cuticle. However, there are a few studies that do not necessarily agree with this idea. We assessed needle browning and death in Pinus pumila (Pallas) Regel. in the alpine region of Japan in relation to mechanical damage to the cuticle, cuticular resistance, and cuticle thickness. Mechanical damage was not observed on needle cuticles of Pinus pumila browning in a natural environment. The color of needles with artificially abraded cuticles changed from green to brown in the abraded part. However, the brown color at the abraded part differed from the brown of a browning needle in its natural environment. There was no correlation between cuticular resistance and cuticle thickness. Needle browning and death in P. pumila were not related to mechanical damage of the cuticle or to cuticle thickness but might be due to changes in the quality and structure of the cuticle and other stresses.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Forest Science, Kyoto Prefectural University, 1-5 Shimogamo Hangi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8522, Japan. 2: Department of Biology, Toho University, 2-2-1 Mitsuyama, Funabashi 274-8510, Japan.

Publication date: January 30, 2012

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