Photosynthetic performance of silver fir (Abies alba) of different origins under suboptimal growing conditions

Funct Plant Biol. 2020 Oct;47(11):1007-1018. doi: 10.1071/FP20040.


Understanding of the intraspecific variability in the physiological stress response of trees may enable to mitigate the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems in the future. We studied the photosynthetic performance of five silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) provenances originating from climatically distinct localities. The study was performed in the trial plot of the silver fir provenance experiment IUFRO 2005 on two dates: in the early summer and in the late summer. Heat waves and a decrease in water availability occurred between the two measurement dates, allowing us to study the response of the provenances to suboptimal growing conditions. The provenances were evaluated at the level of PSII photochemistry and CO2 assimilation by measuring photosynthesis-related pigment content, chlorophyll a fluorescence, and gas exchange parameters. Significant climatic clines were confirmed: the photosynthetic performance before and after the stress period increased with the increasing altitude and precipitation at the site of origin. In contrast, photosynthetic performance declined with the increasing temperature and Ellenberg's quotient of the origin site. We concluded that provenances originating from high altitudes, corresponding well with more humid and colder conditions in Central Europe, showed the greatest photosynthetic performance and were less responsive to moderate heat and drought. This documents inter-population variation in physiological traits, which needs to be considered in setting rules and recommendations for the transfer of forest reproductive materials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abies*
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Ecosystem
  • Europe
  • Photosynthesis


  • Chlorophyll A