Journal Article

Shoot biomass growth is related to the vertical leaf nitrogen gradient in <i>Salix</i> canopies

Martin Weih and Ann-Christin Rönnberg-Wästjung

in Tree Physiology

Volume 27, issue 11, pages 1551-1559
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online November 2007 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Shoot biomass growth is related to the vertical leaf nitrogen gradient in Salix canopies

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Plant canopy optimization models predict that leaf nitrogen (N) distribution in the canopy will parallel the vertical light gradient, and numerous studies with many species have confirmed this prediction. Further, it is predicted that for a given canopy leaf area, a low vertical light extinction coefficient will promote rapid growth. Therefore, the ideal canopy of fast-growing plants should combine high leaf area index with a low light extinction coefficient; the latter being reflected in a flat vertical leaf N gradient throughout the canopy. Based on data from an experimental Salix stand (six varieties) grown on agricultural land in central Sweden, we tested the hypothesis that shoot growth is correlated with vertical leaf N gradient in canopies of hybrid willows bred for biomass production, which could have implications for Salix breeding. Tree improvement research requires screening of growth-related traits in large numbers of plants, but assessment of canopy leaf N gradients by chemical analysis is expensive, time-consuming and destructive. An alternative to analytical methods is to estimate leaf N gradients nondestructively with an optical chlorophyll meter (SPAD method). Here we provide a specific calibration for interpreting SPAD data measured in hybrid willows grown in biomass plantations on fertile agricultural land. Based on SPAD measurements, a significant and inverse relationship (r2 = 0.88) was found between shoot biomass growth and vertical leaf N gradient across canopies of six Salix varieties.

Keywords: bio-fuels; breeding; chlorophyll fluorescence; nitrogen economy; SPAD; Sweden

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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