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Quantifying intra-annual dynamics of carbon sequestration in the forming wood: a novel histologic approach

Andrianantenaina, Anjy N., Rathgeber, Cyrille B. K., Pérez-de-Lis, Gonzalo, Cuny, Henri, Ruelle, Julien
Annals of forest science 2019 v.76 no.3 pp. 62
Angiospermae, Picea abies, biomass production, cambium, carbon sequestration, carbon sinks, forest ecosystems, forests, growing season, growth rings, hardwood, histology, image analysis, softwood, stem elongation, tracheids, trees, France, Germany
KEY MESSAGE : This study presents a novel histologic approach to quantify the intra-annual dynamics of carbon sequestration in forming wood. This innovative approach, based on repeated measurements of xylem apparent density, is more direct, and more accurate than the previously published cellular-based approach. Moreover, this new approach, which was tested here on softwoods, is also applicable to hardwoods without any modification. CONTEXT: Forest ecosystems are key players of the terrestrial carbon cycle. Indeed, wood represents the principal carbon pool of terrestrial biomass, accumulated in trees through cambial activity. AIMS: Here, we present a novel, simple, and fast approach to accurately estimate the intra-annual dynamics of aboveground woody biomass production based on image analysis of forming xylem sections. METHODS: During the 2015 growing season, we weekly collected wood samples (microcores) containing the forming xylem on seven Norway spruces (Picea abies (L.) Karst), grown in Hesse forest (North-East France). The microcores were prepared to allow the observation of the forming tissues with an optical microscope. Xylem apparent density and radial increment were then measured directly on images of the histological sections. In order to compare our “histologic approach” with the previously published “cellular approach,” we also counted the number of tracheids in each differentiation zones, and measured the tracheid dimensions all along the last-formed tree ring. RESULTS: The two approaches yielded comparable meaningful results, describing xylem size increase and aboveground woody biomass production as bell-shaped curves culminating in May and June respectively. However, the histologic approach provided a shorter time lag between xylem size increase and biomass production than the cellular one. CONCLUSION: Better quantification of the shift between stem growth in size and in biomass will require addressing the knowledge gap regarding lignin deposition kinetics. Nevertheless, our novel histologic approach is simpler and more direct than the cellular one, and may open the way to a first quantification of intra-annual dynamics of woody biomass production in angiosperms, where the cellular approach is hardly applicable.