Seasonal and spatial variation of carbohydrates in mistletoes (Viscum album) and the xylem sap of its hosts (Populus x euamericana and Abies alba).

Research paper by Peter P Escher, Monika M Eiblmeier, Ilka I Hetzger, Heinz H Rennenberg

Indexed on: 23 Mar '04Published on: 23 Mar '04Published in: Physiologia Plantarum


In the present field study we analysed the seasonal pattern of carbohydrate composition and contents in the xylem sap of Viscum album and the xylem sap of a deciduous (Populusxeuramericana) and a coniferous (Abies alba) host tree species. The results were compared with the soluble carbohydrate composition and contents of mistletoe tissues. On both hosts significant amounts of glucose, fructose, and sucrose were found in the xylem sap of Viscum throughout the seasons. The general seasonal pattern of sugar contents, i.e. high concentrations in spring and lower concentrations in other seasons on Populus, and intermediate concentrations throughout the year on Abies, largely reflected the xylem sap carbohydrate composition and contents of the respective host. These observations provide indirect evidence for carbohydrate flux from the xylem sap of the host into the mistletoe. However, in both hosts xylem sap seems to be deviated into the mistletoe without specific control of carbohydrate flux. Differences observed between the seasonal pattern of xylem sap carbohydrate concentrations in Viscum on Populus and Abies may originate from the different time of leaf development of these species. A clear-cut seasonal pattern of soluble carbohydrates was not observed in the leaves of Viscum on both hosts. Still soluble carbohydrates seem to be reallocated from the senescing to the newly developed leaves of Viscum indicating that the seasonal requirement of carbohydrate for growth and development can only completely be met by carbohydrate acquisition from the host and their own photosynthesis.