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J Chem Ecol. 2006 Jul;32(7):1445-58. Epub 2006 May 23.

Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on foliar proanthocyanidins in Betula platyphylla, Betula ermanii, and Fagus crenata seedlings.

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Laboratory of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Department of Chemistry, University of Turku, Finland.


Proanthocyanidins (PAs) or condensed tannins are a major group of phenolic compounds in the leaves of birch trees and many other woody and herbaceous plants. These compounds constitute a significant allocation of carbon in leaves and are involved in plant responses to environmental stress factors, such as pathogens or herbivores. In some plants, PA concentrations are affected by atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and ozone (O(3)) levels that may influence, for example, species fitness, community structure, or ecosystem nutrient cycling. Therefore, a study on the quantitative response of PAs to elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and ozone (O(3)) was undertaken in seedlings of Betula platyphylla, Betula ermanii, and Fagus crenata. Seedlings were exposed to ambient or elevated O(3) and CO(2) levels during two growing seasons in the Kanto district in Japan. Ten open-top chambers were used for five different treatments with two replicates: filtered air (FA), ambient air (ambient O(3), 43 ppb; ambient CO(2), 377 ppm), elevated O(3) (1.5 x ambient O(3), 66 ppb), elevated CO(2) (1.5 x ambient CO(2), 544 ppm), and elevated O(3) and CO(2) combined. In addition, seedlings growing in natural conditions outside of chambers were studied. Leaf samples were analyzed for total PA concentrations by butanol-HCl assay and for polymeric PA concentrations by normal-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Total PA concentrations in leaves of all species were similarly affected by different treatments. They were significantly higher in seedlings treated with elevated CO(2) and O(3) combined, and in seedlings growing outside chambers compared with the FA controls. F. crenata contained only traces of polymeric PAs, but significant species x treatment interaction was observed in the polymeric PA concentrations in B. ermanii and B. platyphylla. In B. platyphylla, leaves treated with elevated CO(2) + O(3) differed significantly from all other treatments. It was suggested that the strongest effect of elevated CO(2) and O(3) combined on leaf PA contents resulted from the additive effect of these environmental factors on phenolic biosynthesis.

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