Previous evidence indicates that changes in well-defined phases of dormancy in underground adventitious buds of leafy spurge in late summer and autumn are regulated by complex sensing and signaling pathways involving aboveground sugar signals. However, little information exists concerning seasonal photosynthesis and carbohydrate partitioning of leafy spurge, although such information would help to elucidate the involvement of sugar in controlling bud dormancy. An outdoor study was conducted over two growing seasons to determine and model seasonal patterns of photosynthesis and aboveground carbohydrate partitioning and their relationship to underground adventitious bud carbohydrate status. Photosynthesis and total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) content of aboveground tissues was greatest during vegetative growth. Photosynthesis gradually declined over the growing season, whereas TNC decreased sharply during flowering, followed by a gradual decline between midsummer and autumn. Leaf starch increased dramatically to midsummer before declining sharply throughout late summer and early autumn, whereas sucrose content responded inversely, indicating a mobilization of starch reserves and export of sugars to overwintering belowground sink tissues. Because newly formed underground adventitious buds showed a continuous increase in TNC from midsummer through autumn, export of sugars from aboveground tissues likely contributed to the increase in TNC. These results may facilitate new strategies for biological control of leafy spurge.
Nomenclature: Leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula L