Exposé Chercheur Invité

Is water use efficiency a useful and relevant trait for adaptation to local conditions and for breeding? Present knowledge and research needs

Erwin Dreyer (INRA)

Erwin Dreyer(1), Oliver Brendel(1), Didier Le Thiec(1), Nicolas Marron(1), Franck Brignolas (2)

(1) INRA, Nancy-Université, UMR1137 “Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestières”, F 54280 CHAMPENOUX, France (dreyer at nancy.inra.fr)

(2) Université d’Orléans, INRA, USC2030ARCHE” Orléans, France

The diversity of water use efficiency (W) has been investigated at large scales in trees thanks to its surrogate 13Carbon isotopic discrimination during photosynthesis, as recorded from leaf biomass. We now have many examples evidencing an important diversity of this trait in several tree species, and valuable insight into the genetic control of this diversity is available. Nevertheless, two main questions remain open, and have not yet found adequate answers: (i) is the observed diversity of W in natural populations neutral, or is W submitted to some selective pressure? (ii) are 13C discrimination and enhanced W a valuable target for breeding in plantation species like poplar or pines? Based on recent evidence obtained in natural populations of oaks and beech, as well as in clonal plantations of poplar, we will discuss these two questions and provide some clues, as well as develop further research needs. Briefly, there is currently only little evidence from natural populations that the observed genetic diversity of 13C and W is organised along clear patterns related for instance to soil water availability. We therefore urgently need more data on the genetic variability of 13C at local scales, i.e., common garden experiments. Breeding for enhanced W will not produce genotypes with enhanced drought resistance, but could possibly increase the sustainability of plantation forestry in regions where water availability is a major issue.

Salle Silvolab (Campus de Kourou)

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