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Tree Physiol. 2011 Nov;31(11):1183-93. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpr108. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Time course of δ1¹³C in poplar wood: genotype ranking remains stable over the life cycle in plantations despite some differences between cellulose and bulk wood.

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  • 1INRA, UMR1137 Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestières, IFR 110 EFABA, F-54280 Champenoux, France.


Genetic differences in δ¹³C (isotopic composition of dry matter carbon) have been evidenced among poplar genotypes at juvenile stages. To check whether such differences were maintained with age in trees growing in plantations, we investigated the time course of δ¹³C as recorded in annual tree rings from different genotypes growing at three sites in southwestern France and felled at ∼15-17 years. Wood cores were cut from tree discs to record the time course of annual basal area increment (BAI). The isotopic ratio δ¹³C was recorded in bulk wood and in extracted cellulose from the annual rings corresponding to the period 1996-2005. Discrimination against ¹³C between atmosphere and tissues (Δ¹³C) was computed by taking into account the inter-annual time course of δ¹³C in the atmosphere. Annual BAI increased steadily and stabilized at about 8 years. An offset in δ¹³C of ∼1‰ was recorded between extracted cellulose and bulk wood. It was relatively stable among genotypes within sites but varied among sites and increased slightly with age. Site effects as well as genotype differences were detected in Δ¹³C recorded from the cellulose fraction. Absolute values as well as the genotype ranking of Δ¹³C remained stable with age in the three sites. Genotype means of Δ¹³C were not correlated to annual BAI. We conclude that genotypic differences of Δ¹³C occur in older poplar trees in plantations, and that the differences as well as the genotype ranking remain stable while trees age until harvest.

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