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 Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

nachricht From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>