iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Long-term effects of stem girdling on needle structure in Scots pine

Roman Gebauer (1)   , Roman Plichta (1), Jirí Foit (1), Václav Cermák (1), Josef Urban (1-2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 476-481 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2648-011
Published: Jul 02, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

Stem girdling is the process of completely removing a strip of cork and phloem tissue. Phloem is the living tissue which serves as the main long-distance pathway for transporting carbohydrates produced during photosynthesis to all parts of the plant where needed, from source leaves to sinks. Stem girdling has been used to study several functional aspects of phloem and their direct impacts on tree growth. Although both photosynthesis and transpiration processes take place in needles, no studies exist which investigate the effect of source-sink disturbance on needle structure. In this study, we evaluated changes in needle morphology and anatomy in current-year Scots pine needles 227 and 411 days after girdling (DAG). Although the studied needle parameters recorded 227 DAG were from 2 to 20% higher than the same parameters in control needles, the differences were not significant. On the other hand, needles 411 DAG were thinner, with decreased cross-sectional areas, phloem areas, vascular cylinder areas, needle dry mass, needle density, and needle flatness when compared to control needles. Marked variations in needle growth were observed 411 DAG, with a smaller number of correlations among almost all studied needle parameters in needles 411 DAG when compared to control needles or needles 227 DAG. Structural development determining needle flatness, needle density, and leaf mass per area (LMA) appeared to have driving factors that were independent of the other studied needle parameters, as correlations with other parameters were not significant in any treatment. The changes in overall needle structure observed after long-term stem girdling provide new insights into the processes that occur as a result of source-sink disturbances. This type of data could be helpful, for example, in studies specifically focused on phloem transport, tree carbon relationships, or investigations modeling gas exchange. Our study might also support gene expression studies, which could provide further knowledge about the regulatory mechanisms that determine needle size and structural form.


Anatomy, Cross-section, Morphology, Pinus sylvestris, Phloem, Source-Sink Disturbance

Authors’ address

Roman Gebauer
Roman Plichta
Jirí Foit
Václav Cermák
Josef Urban
Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Zemedelská 3, Brno, 61300 (Czech Republic)
Josef Urban
Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk (Russia)

Corresponding author

Roman Gebauer


Gebauer R, Plichta R, Foit J, Cermák V, Urban J (2018). Long-term effects of stem girdling on needle structure in Scots pine. iForest 11: 476-481. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2648-011

Academic Editor

Silvano Fares

Paper history

Received: Oct 10, 2017
Accepted: Apr 05, 2018

First online: Jul 02, 2018
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2018
Publication Time: 2.93 months

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