Carbon Isotope Effects in Relation to CO2 Assimilation by Tree Canopies

Cernusak, Lucas, and Ubierna, Nerea (2022) Carbon Isotope Effects in Relation to CO2 Assimilation by Tree Canopies. In: Siegwolf, Rolf T.W., Brooks, J. Renée, Roden, John, and Saurer, Matthias, (eds.) Stable Isotopes in Tree Rings: Inferring Physiological, Climatic and Environmental Responses. Tree Physiology, 8 . Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 291-310.

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The carbon atoms deposited in tree rings originate from the CO2 in the atmosphere to which the tree’s canopy is exposed. Thus, the first control on the stable carbon-isotope composition of tree rings is by δ13C of atmospheric CO2. There has been an inter-annual trend of decreasing δ13C of atmospheric CO2 over the past two centuries as a result of combustion of fossil fuels and land-use change. Atmospheric CO2 is, for the most part, well mixed, but the sub-canopy air space can become depleted in 13C due to inputs from soil and plant respiration when turbulent exchange with the troposphere is hindered, for example by a high leaf area index at night. This is less likely to occur during daytime when turbulence is higher and photosynthesis takes place. Discrimination against 13C (∆13C) occurs upon assimilation of atmospheric CO2 by C3 photosynthesis. Trees using the C3 photosynthetic pathway comprise the overwhelming majority of all trees. The primary control on the extent of discrimination during C3 photosynthesis is the drawdown in CO2 concentration from the air outside the leaf to the site of carboxylation in the chloroplast. Part of this drawdown is captured by ci/ca, that is, the ratio of intercellular to ambient CO2 concentrations. The ci/ca represents the balance between the CO2 supply by stomata and its demand by photosynthesis. It can be related to water-use efficiency, the amount of CO2 taken up by photosynthesis for a given amount of water loss to the atmosphere, assuming a given evaporative demand. To predict time-averaged ci/ca from wood ∆13C, a simplified, linear model can be employed. In this linear model, the slope is determined by b¯¯, the effective enzymatic discrimination. The value of b¯¯ can be estimated by comparing wood ∆13C to representative measurements of ci/ca. The b¯¯ was originally estimated from observations of leaf tissue to have a value of 27‰. We compiled data for woody stem tissue here, and our analysis suggests that a lower b¯¯ should be used in the simplified model for wood (b¯¯ = 25.5‰) than for leaves (b¯¯ = 27‰). This is also consistent with widespread observations that woody tissues are enriched in 13C compared to leaves.

Item ID: 74837
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-3-030-92698-4
ISSN: 1568-2544
Copyright Information: ©TheEditor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2022. This book is an open access publication. Open Access This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2022 07:04
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3108 Plant biology > 310806 Plant physiology @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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