Rootstock effect on tree-ring traits in grapevine under a climate change scenario

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Projected changes in drought occurrence in the Mediterranean region are raising concerns about the adaptive capability of rainfed crops, such as grapevine, to increasing aridity. Cultivation management, especially the techniques influencing the hydraulic pathway, can play a role in plant adaptation to drought for the consequent changes in wood anatomical functional traits. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of grafting on wood anatomy in tree-ring series of Vitis vini-fera L. ‘Piedirosso’ grapevine cultivated in a volcanic area in Southern Italy. Tree-ring anatomy was analysed in vines grown on their own roots or grafted onto 420A rootstock. Results showed that grafted vines had a higher occurrence of wood traits linked with safety of water transport if compared with non-grafted vines. Grafting induced the formation of tree rings with higher incidence of latewood also characterised by narrower and more frequent vessels if compared with non-grafted vines. This study suggested a different regulation of water flow in the grafted and non-grafted vines. Such findings support the analysis of wood anatomy as a tool to drive decisions linked with plant cultivation management. In this specific case, our results encourage to further explore the change from a traditional cultivation with own-rooted grapevines towards grafted models inducing better xylem adaptation to increasing drought.



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  • Location of the study site and climate diagram from the CRU TS4.00 gridded dataset at 0.5° resolution data of the period 2000–2015 (Kahle & Wickham 2013).

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  • Tree-ring series (raw data, mean values and standard errors) (a) and Cumulative Basal Area Increment (BAI, mean values) (b) in grafted (G) and non-grafted (NG) vines of Vitis vinifera L. ‘Piedirosso’.

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  • Light microscopy views of end-grain surface of wood rings in grafted (a, G) and non-grafted (b, NG) vines of of Vitis vinifera L. ‘Piedirosso’; effect of grafting on vessel lumen diameter (c) and vessel frequency in EW and LW (d). Mean values and standard errors are shown. Long arrows indicate the boundary between tree rings; short arrows indicate the limit between earlywood and latewood. Different letters correspond to significantly different values (p < 0.05). Scale bar = 500 μm.

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