About this Research Topic
Long-lived forest species represent one of the best examples of adaptation to permanently changing environments. Tolerance to desiccation was the first challenge in the evolution of terrestrial plants and boosted the development of strategies and physiological mechanisms to cope with drought. As water availability is the main determinant of species' distribution and productivity together with temperature, plant drought responses are critical to understanding tree species success, productivity, and resilience to periods of water shortage. Ongoing global changes are associated with a rise in temperatures and an increased frequency of heatwaves, and intense droughts with crucial consequences on forest structure and functions. Moreover, land-use changes decrease the size of populations and threats species genetic variability, especially in relict populations. The future of forest species to these changes will be determined by their capacity to acclimate, adapt or migrate.
Adaptation to drought involves multiple traits, complex interactions, and tradeoffs that vary within and among species, and change at different scales. Accordingly, adaptation to drought has been extensively studied at multiple levels of organization: from community ecology to molecular biology and from whole plant ecophysiology to organs or tissues.
The understanding of forest species adaptations to drought has major implications in basic and applied science, from informing fundamental ecological theory explaining species distribution and interactions to predicting and modeling local and global responses to global change and implementing effective ecological restoration.
Recent advances of high throughput noninvasive technologies, including new image methods, and new mechanistic models of water transport in the continuum soil-plant-atmosphere represent a unique opportunity to disentangle the complex interplay between drought-adapted phenotype and genotype. The combination of -omics approaches with in situ physiological measurements should enlighten the molecular basis of adaptation to drought in forest tree species, but also the heritability of major traits related to drought adaptation. To this end, faster phenotyping of a large number of populations/species will facilitate the incorporation of variation in adaptive traits among species/habitats which may inform Dynamic Global Vegetation Models.
In this Research Topic, we aim to include a broad range of observational, experimental and modeling studies focused on key aspects of drought adaptations of forest species using physiological, molecular, structural and modeling approaches. Authors are invited to submit original research, reviews/mini-reviews, methods and opinion articles related to, but are not exclusively limited to the following topics:
- Functional mechanisms of drought adaptation in tree species
- Responses of tree species to drought ranging from the gene to the population or ecosystem
- Interaction of drought with other environmental factors in shaping tree adaptation
- Recent advances in improving adaptation to drought for reforestation purposes or in breeding programs of economical important species
- Inter and intraspecific variability of functional traits related to drought tolerance and their heritability
- Predicting the adaptive potential of forest species or populations to future habitats
- Role of endophytes and mycorrhizas in drought tolerance in tree species
- Tree rings: witnesses of the past, pointers of the future
- Protective mechanisms of tree species to deal with herbivory and pathogen infections during drought
Keywords: Drought, physiological and morphological acclimation, intraspecific and interspecific variability, global change, forest dynamics, forest growth, forest mortality
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