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Distribution of heartwood extractives in hybrid larches and in their related European and Japanese larch parents: relationship with wood colour parameters

Pâques, Luc E., García-Casas, Maria del Carmen, Charpentier, Jean-Paul
European journal of forest research 2013 v.132 no.1 pp. 61-69
Larix decidua, Larix kaempferi, color, decay resistance, durability, genotype, heartwood, hybrids, parents, phenols, taxifolin, trees, wood
Heartwood is the most valuable part of larch timber when either natural durability or aesthetic aspects of the wood are required. Both properties are directly linked to chemical extractives and particularly to phenols. Based on a broad sample of trees (583) from European and Japanese larch and their interspecific hybrid, we investigated the variability in phenolic content, and particularly of two major compounds, Taxifolin (Tax) and Dihydrokaempferol (DHK), and their link with wood colour. At the individual wood sample level, phenolic contents ranged from 6.0 to 55.9 mg eq. Tax/g DW. Taxifolin was the most abundant constituent (range: 1.3–41.7 mg/g DW) compared with DHK (0.5–13.7 mg eq. Tax/g DW). A high variability among taxa, genotypes and individual trees within taxa and within trees was observed. Japanese larch had the highest amount of total phenols and of Taxifolin and European larch the lowest. For DHK, Japanese larch was the poorest compared with European larch. Hybrid larch had both a high content of Taxifolin and of DHK. Variability for colour parameters was on average weaker than for phenolic content but still large enough to show significant differences between taxa. Correlations between colour parameters and extractives were moderate to weak. At the mean genotype level, a good link (r > 0.51, p < 0.001) was found between a* (red–green axis in CIELAB) and total phenols and Taxifolin contents and between L* (Lightness) and DHK content (r > 0.54). The broad variability observed in this study at different levels for phenolics offers opportunities for breeders to genetically improve the quality of larch heartwood, in particular in relation to decay resistance.