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Oecologia. 2013 Jun;172(2):347-57. doi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2506-6. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Inverse gradients in leaf wax δD and δ13C values along grass blades of Miscanthus sinensis: implications for leaf wax reproduction and plant physiology.

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  • 1Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Compound specific hydrogen and carbon isotopic ratios of higher plant leaf waxes have been extensively used in paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. However, studies so far have focused on the comparison of leaf wax isotopic differences in bulk leaf samples between different plant species. We sampled three different varieties of tall grasses (Miscanthus sinensis) in six segments from base to tip and determined hydrogen and carbon isotopic ratios of leaf waxes, as well as hydrogen and oxygen isotopic ratios of leaf water samples. We found an increasing, base-to-tip hydrogen isotopic gradient along the grass blades that can probably be attributed to active leaf wax regeneration over the growth season. Carbon isotopic ratios, on the other hand, show opposite trends to hydrogen isotopic ratios along the grass blades, which may reflect different photosynthetic efficiencies at different blade locales.

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