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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 81 (1) 3-12 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2016/81.1.1
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2016 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Late 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, Federal Nature Conservation Act § 40 was enacted in 2010 to regulate trees and shrubs in an open landscape due to postulated genetic differences and regional adaptations to soil and climate. Propagation and utilization of plants must therefore be in accordance to the Act. However, trees and shrubs are reported to possess considerable adaptation plasticity and can inherently perform over wide ecological units. In this study we evaluated plasticity of four populations of Corylus avellana from different places of origin to late frost stress. After cultivation on the container area of Leibniz University of Hannover, plants were treated with temperatures of -12°C and -6°C under controlled conditions. Relative electrolyte leakage as a measure of damage due to frost increased with decreasing temperatures and sprouting stage. Glucose, fructose, sucrose (GFS), and starch declined with sprouting while proline increased. Starch and proline did not react to late frost treatment while GFS were variable between treatments, years and time of the year. Populations differed consistently only in their proline concentrations. Sprouting stage was the most significant factor influencing both frost-induced electrolyte leakage and biomarkers. In conclusion, there were no clear, consistent differences between the tested populations in spite of varied climatic conditions and geographical distance between their places of origin. Hence no late frost consequences in populations’ transfer with regards to latitude and altitude will be expected within the range investigated here.

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

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Trees and shrubs are reported to have enormous adaptive capacity to endure and proliferate in extreme climatic conditions in nature. However, it is agreed not to source plants from extreme climatic differences, but rather to use native trees and shrubs. In Germany use of trees and shrubs in free nature has been further restricted to six officially defined areas of origin through Federal Nature Conservation Act §40. These defined areas of origin are independent of species.
What are the new findings?
  • Phenological monitoring during bud sprouting as well as physiological and biochemical results from four German populations of Corylus avellana L. exposed to late frost under controlled conditions demonstrated them to be similar despite climatic differences in their place of origin and also genetic differences. Deductively, there is no risk involved in transferring these populations within the latitude (50°N – 52°N) and altitude (38 m – 454 m a.s.l.) margins tested with respect to late frost.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Related to late frost, genetic differences, which are the base of the German Federal Nature Conservation Act, could not be translated to physiological and biochemical reactions. Accordingly, with regard to late and early frost (reported earlier), collection of propagation materials and trade of propagates by nurseries could be done without compromising their survival within the margins given above. Moreover, plants from different sources enhance genetic biodiversity and thus their adaptability, especially due to rapid climate change.

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Received: 4 May 2015 | Revised: 21 July 2015 | Accepted: 15 September 2015 | Published: 22 February 2016 | Available online: 22 February 2016

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