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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (4) 162-169 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.4.3
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Early frost reactions of different populations of hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.)

J. Wanjiku and H. Bohne
Institute of Horticultural Production Systems, Section Woody Plant and Propagation Physiology, Leibniz University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany

In Germany, planting of trees and shrubs in an open landscape is regulated by law (Federal Nature Conservation Act §40) because of supposed genetic differences and regional adaptations to habitat conditions (mainly climatic and soil). Therefore, for trees and shrubs to be planted in the open landscape, Germany is divided into six officially designated regions of origin, often referred to as provenances. Propagation and use of plants must be carried out according to these provenances. To evaluate whether plants from different populations differ in their physiological and biochemical reactions, two years old cuttings of Corylus avellana from four populations with different climatic and soil conditions were evaluated in an early frost experiment under controlled conditions. Relative electrolyte leakage as a measure of damage due to frost increased with decreasing temperatures. Selected biomarkers (glucose, fructose, sucrose, starch and proline) were used to assess biochemical reactions of these populations. Increases due to frost were small and in most cases reflected the ranking of the unstressed plants of the populations. Only few statistical differences were found. There were no clear, consistent trends in spite of varied climatic conditions and geographical distance between the populations. Plants from all populations survived frost until -27°C. Hence there are no severe risks in populations’ transfer within these latitude and altitude margins with regards to early frost.

Keywords altitude, climate, cryoprotective compounds, latitude, relative electrolyte leakage, stress

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • The distribution and colonization of many temperate trees and shrubs species in nature are determined by their adaptive capacity to withstand and survive extreme weather conditions like early frosts in their place of origin. It is assumed, therefore, that transferring trees and shrubs from their places of origin to places with differing ecological conditions may jeopardize their adaptation and survival. Despite the fact that it is agreed not to import plants from outside but rather to use native trees and shrubs in free nature, Germany went further to restrict utilization of these plants in free nature to six officially defined areas of origin through a Federal Conservation Act §40. These defined areas of origin are independent on species.
What are the new findings?
  • Our results from four German populations of Corylus avellana L. exposed to early frost under controlled conditions showed that there is no risk involved in transferring these populations within their latitude (50°N – 52°N) and altitude (38–454 m a.s.l.) margins with respect to early frost. This is because of the reason that these populations were physiologically and biochemically similar during the time we conducted an early frost experiment.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Putatively, there are no physiological and or biochemical reasons that could hinder utilization of these populations as negated by the act. With regard to early frost, nurseries collection of propagation materials and sale of such propagules, regardless of the defined area of origin in these margins, does not jeopardize their survival. Moreover, plants from different sources might enhance genetic biodiversity and thus their survival in the wake of rapid climate change.

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Received: 7 July 2014 | Revised: 17 April 2015 | Accepted: 21 April 2015 | Published: 24 August 2015 | Available online: 24 August 2015

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