Carbohydrate storage enables plants to both tolerate seasonally unfavourable conditions and recover from disturbance. Although short-term changes in storage levels due to disturbance are fairly well-known, less is known about long-term changes in storage levels, especially in response to cessation of repeated disturbance such as mowing. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Janeček et al. found that plants in unmown meadows are able to store large amounts of carbohydrates. These stores, however, become depleted during winter and/or spring and thus do not differ from levels in mown plots at the peak of the next growing season. They also found that although carbohydrate concentrations initially reflect the carbohydrate mobilization needed for resprouting in response to plant damage and subsequently reflect the refilling of reserves thereby expended, the total carbohydrate amounts are affected by the growth of storage organs. Although concentrations and total amounts of carbohydrates reflect different aspects of plant carbohydrate storage, their concentration might sufficiently describe the short-term effects of disturbance.
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