Drought conditions are the major constraint to the early establishment of Quercus suber species. However, drought responses of this species depend on provenances. The objective of this study was to obtain more comprehensive knowledge on the influence of drought conditions on the response of Q. suber L. seedlings originating from Algeria. Soil water status in soil (SWC) and relative water content (RWC) in leaves, morphological parameters for growth evaluation and physiological parameters, and ectomycorrhization were evaluated in two plots of seedlings: watered (W) and none watered (NW). Ten weeks of water starvation induced a reduction in RWC, ectomycorrhization rate and height and diameter growth of none watered seedlings. Under drought conditions, both soluble sugars and proteins were enhanced while polyphenols and %N decreased. The reduction of soil water content was negatively correlated with carbon isotope discrimination. The survival of the seedlings under these drought conditions was due to two strategies: osmotic adjustment through soluble sugars and proteins accumulations in leaves and an increase in carbon discrimination which enhances the water use efficiency (WUE).
Key words: Quercus suber, growth, drought, ectomycorrhization, pigments, sugars, starch, plyphenols, δ13C.
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