Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

δ13C of organic matter transported from the leaves to the roots in Eucalyptus delegatensis: short-term variations and relation to respired CO2

Arthur Gessler A B J , Claudia Keitel A , Naomi Kodama C , Christopher Weston B , Anthony J. Winters D E , Heather Keith F G , Kliti Grice H , Ray Leuning I and Graham D. Farquhar A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Environmental Biology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

B School of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne, Water Street, Creswick, Vic. 3363, Australia.

C Chair of Tree Physiology, University of Freiburg, Georges-Köhler Allee 53/54, 79085 Freiburg, Germany.

D School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

E Ecosystem Dynamics Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

F CSIRO Climate Program, PO Box 3023, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

G Current Address: Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

H Stable Isotope and Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Centre for Applied Organic Geochemistry, The Institute for Geoscience Research Department of Applied Chemistry, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.

I CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, GPO Box 3023, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

J Corresponding author. Email: arthur.gessler@sonne.uni-freiburg.de

Functional Plant Biology 34(8) 692-706 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP07064
Submitted: 10 March 2007  Accepted: 31 May 2007   Published: 23 July 2007

Abstract

Post-photosynthetic carbon isotope fractionation might alter the isotopic signal imprinted on organic matter (OM) during primary carbon fixation by Rubisco. To characterise the influence of post-photosynthetic processes, we investigated the effect of starch storage and remobilisation on the stable carbon isotope signature (δ13C) of different carbon pools in the Eucalyptus delegatensis R. T. Baker leaf and the potential carbon isotope fractionation associated with phloem transport and respiration. Twig phloem exudate and leaf water-soluble OM showed diel variations in δ13C of up to 2.5 and 2‰, respectively, with 13C enrichment during the night and depletion during the day. Damped diel variation was also evident in bulk lipids of the leaf and in the leaf wax fraction. δ13C of nocturnal phloem exudate OM corresponded with the δ13C of carbon released from starch. There was no change in δ13C of phloem carbon along the trunk. CO2 emitted from trunks and roots was 13C enriched compared with the potential organic substrate, and depleted compared with soil-emitted CO2. The results are consistent with transitory starch accumulation and remobilisation governing the diel rhythm of δ13C in phloem-transported OM and fragmentation fractionation occurring during respiration. When using δ13C of OM or CO2 for assessing ecosystem processes or plant reactions towards environmental constraints, post-photosynthetic discrimination should be considered.

Additional keywords: fragmentation fractionation, phloem transported organic matter, post-photosynthetic carbon isotope discrimination, starch.


Acknowledgements

Arthur Gessler acknowledges financial support by a research fellowship from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under contract number GE 1090/4–1. Graham D Farquhar and Claudia Keitel thank the Australian Research Council (ARC) for financial support. Thank you to Guillaume Tcherkez, Francesco Ripullone, Naoko Matsuo, Matthias Cuntz, Hilary Stuart-Williams, Katherine Whittaker and Kris Jacobsen for help during the measurement campaign. Sue Wang and Christiane Vitzthum Von Eckstaedt (Curtin University of Technology, Perth) are thanked for technical support. Kliti Grice thanks the Australian Research Council for an ARC QEII Fellowship for support for research work on CSIA of leaf waxes.


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