Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Chilling Solution: Measuring Below-ground Carbon Without Destroying Trees

08.12.2006
USDA Forest Service (FS) researchers have provided the first proof of concept for a method that allows scientists to study below-ground carbon allocation in trees without destroying them.

In the latest issue of the journal Plant, Cell and Environment, Kurt Johnsen and fellow researchers at the FS Southern Research Station unit in Research Triangle Park, NC, describe a reversible, non-destructive chilling method that stops the movement of carbon into root systems.

The photosynthetic process of plants has been estimated to account for almost half of the carbon circulating in the Earth’s systems. Reliable data has been developed on carbon cycling in the above-ground processes of trees, but how much carbon is actually moved and stored below the ground has still not been determined. Most methods to study below-ground processes involve destroying the roots as well as the mycorrhizal communities that live symbiotically with root systems

“Below-ground carbon allocation is one of the least understood processes in tree physiology,” says Johnsen. “Being able to accurately measure it is essential for modeling forest and ecosystem productivity and carbon sequestration, but most methods disturb the root-mycorrhizal continuum that plays an essential role in nutrient transport.”

One method of estimating below-ground carbon allocation involves girdling the tree, cutting through the phloem to stop the movement of carbon into roots. This method leaves the root-mycorrhizal continuum intact, but still destroys the tree. Johnsen and his fellow researchers decided to try chilling the phloem to temporarily interrupt carbon movement and leave the tree alive. Though the technique has been used on herbaceous plants in controlled environments, Johnsen’s experiment represents the first test of the method on trees and, in particular, on large trees in the field.

The researchers chilled the phloem of 10 loblolly pine trees in a stand that receives annual fertilization, comparing responses with those from physically girdled trees in both fertilized and unfertilized stands to determine whether the technique would give accurate results. They wrapped each tree in 30 coils of copper tubing, then circulated anti-freeze cooled to less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit through the tubing, measuring carbon dioxide efflux from the soil to determine if carbon movement was reduced The researchers hypothesized that carbon movement in trees would differ at varying points in the year; this was confirmed in their study.

“There was no response to either chilling or physical girdling in the experiments we did in the spring,” says Johnsen. “We think this is because above-ground growth was so rapid and below-ground processes were getting carbon from starch reserves.”

Fall experiments, however, showed that both chilling and girdling rapidly reduced soil carbon dioxide efflux, showing that both techniques stop or reduce the movement below ground of carbon recently produced by photosynthesis. The difference is that once the chilling was stopped, the effect was rapidly reversed, while the physically girdled trees died.

“This phloem-chilling method can be applied to the same trees at various times of the year and under a variety of environmental conditions, giving us the means to generate robust estimates of carbon allocation needed to construct more realistic and reliable carbon cycle models,” says Johnsen.

For more information:
Kurt Johnsen at 919-549-4270 or kjohnsen@fs.fed.us

Kurt Johnsen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/25136

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>