Non-structural carbohydrates mediate seasonal water stress across Amazon forests

Caroline Signori-Mueller*, Rafael S. Oliveira, Fernanda de Vasconcellos Barros, Julia Valentim Tavares, Martin Gilpin, Francisco Carvalho Diniz, Manuel J. Marca Zevallos, Carlos A. Salas Yupayccana, Martin Acosta, Jean Bacca, Rudi S. Cruz Chino, Gina M. Aramayo Cuellar, Edwin R. M. Cumapa, Franklin Martinez, Flor M. Perez Mullisaca, Alex Nina, Jesus M. Banon Sanchez, Leticia Fernandes da Silva, Ligia Tello, Jose Sanchez TintayaMaira T. Martinez Ugarteche, Timothy R. Baker, Paulo R. L. Bittencourt, Laura S. Borma, Mauro Brum, Wendeson Castro, Euridice N. Honorio Coronado, Eric G. Cosio, Ted R. Feldpausch, Leticia D'Agosto Miguel Fonseca, Emanuel Gloor, Gerardo Flores Llampazo, Yadvinder Malhi, Abel Monteagudo Mendoza, Victor Chama Moscoso, Alejandro Araujo-Murakami, Oliver L. Phillips, Norma Salinas, Marcos Silveira, Joey Talbot, Rodolfo Vasquez, Maurizio Mencuccini, David Galbraith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) are major substrates for plant metabolism and have been implicated in mediating drought-induced tree mortality. Despite their significance, NSC dynamics in tropical forests remain little studied. We present leaf and branch NSC data for 82 Amazon canopy tree species in six sites spanning a broad precipitation gradient. During the wet season, total NSC (NSCT) concentrations in both organs were remarkably similar across communities. However, NSCT and its soluble sugar (SS) and starch components varied much more across sites during the dry season. Notably, the proportion of leaf NSCT in the form of SS (SS:NSCT) increased greatly in the dry season in almost all species in the driest sites, implying an important role of SS in mediating water stress in these sites. This adjustment of leaf NSC balance was not observed in tree species less-adapted to water deficit, even under exceptionally dry conditions. Thus, leaf carbon metabolism may help to explain floristic sorting across water availability gradients in Amazonia and enable better prediction of forest responses to future climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2310
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2021


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