1 Research Stem girdling affects the quantity of CO 2 transported in xylem as well as CO 2 efflux from soil Jasper Bloemen 1, Laura Agneessens 1, Lieven Van Meulebroek 2, Doug P. Aubrey 3, Mary Anne McGuire 4, Robert O. Teskey 4 and Kathy Steppe 1 1 Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium; 2 Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium; 3 Department of Biology, Georgia Southern University, PO Box 8042, Statesboro, GA , USA; 4 Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, 180 East Green St, Athens, GA , USA Author for correspondence: Jasper Bloemen Tel: Received: 31 July 2013 Accepted: 26 September 2013 doi: /nph Key words: belowground respiration, girdling, internal CO 2, roots, soil CO 2 efflux, xylem CO 2 transport. Summary There is recent clear evidence that an important fraction of root-respired CO 2 is transported upward in the transpiration stream in tree stems rather than fluxing to the soil. In this study, we aimed to quantify the contribution of root-respired CO 2 to both soil CO 2 efflux and xylem CO 2 transport by manipulating the autotrophic component of belowground respiration. We compared soil CO 2 efflux and the flux of root-respired CO 2 transported in the transpiration stream in girdled and nongirdled 9-yr-old oak trees (Quercus robur) to assess the impact of a change in the autotrophic component of belowground respiration on both CO 2 fluxes. Stem girdling decreased xylem CO 2 concentration, indicating that belowground respiration contributes to the aboveground transport of internal CO 2. Girdling also decreased soil CO 2 efflux. These results confirmed that root respiration contributes to xylem CO 2 transport and that failure to account for this flux results in inaccurate estimates of belowground respiration when efflux-based methods are used. This research adds to the growing body of evidence that efflux-based measurements of belowground respiration underestimate autotrophic contributions. Introduction In forests, soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ) contributes between 30 and 80% of total ecosystem respiration (Goulden et al., 1996; Davidson et al., 2006), thereby representing the second largest carbon flux after photosynthesis (Davidson et al., 2002; Bond-Lamberty et al., 2004; Subke et al., 2011). The different sources of belowground respiration contributing to E soil can be divided into those originating from living roots, their mycorrhizal fungal symbionts, and rhizosphere micro-organisms (the autotrophic component (R a )) and those from the decomposition of dead organic matter in the bulk soil (the heterotrophic component (R h )) (Edwards et al., 1970; Bowden et al., 1993). Accurate estimates of both R a and R h are needed to better understand the dynamics in E soil, which is a crucial component in modeling the carbon cycle in forests (Scott- Denton et al., 2006). By removing a circumferential band of bark and phloem from a tree stem during girdling, the downward transport of photosynthates to roots and associated rhizomicrobial organisms is interrupted (De Schepper et al., 2010), which reduces R a (Kuzyakov & Gavrichkova, 2010), while water and nutrient transport in the upward direction in the xylem can continue (H ogberg et al., 2001; Frey et al., 2006). In various forest ecosystems, E soil was reduced by girdling by between 24 and 65% relative to E soil measured in nongirdled control plots (see table 1 in H ogberg et al., 2009), illustrating the importance of the contribution of R a to forest E soil. However, these estimates were potentially biased by root death (Bhupinderpal-Singh et al., 2003) or increased use of starch (H ogberg et al., 2001; Frey et al., 2006) after girdling. Previous studies of E soil might also have underestimated R a because the upward transport of root-respired CO 2 with the transpiration stream was not considered. With simultaneous measurements of sap flow and CO 2 concentration ([CO 2 ]%) in stems and E soil in an eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) stand, Aubrey & Teskey (2009) estimated that twice the amount of CO 2 derived from R a was transported internally via the xylem compared with that which diffused into the soil atmosphere. This internally transported CO 2 contributes to high internal [CO 2 ]in tree stems (range < 1 26%; see table 1 in Teskey et al., 2008), which affects efflux from stems, and is not accounted for with conventional efflux-based measurements of belowground respiration. Grossiord et al. (2012) observed similar internal transport 897
2 898 Research New Phytologist of CO 2 derived from R a in Eucalyptus PF1 (clone 1-41), but in a smaller quantity than observed by Aubrey & Teskey (2009). Nevertheless, the xylem transport of root-respired CO 2 raises important questions about our understanding of respiration (Hanson & Gunderson, 2009), which is potentially misestimated in studies that neglect to account for it (Aubrey & Teskey, 2009). To account for the contribution of R a to both xylem CO 2 transport and E soil, we made measurements of sap flow, internal [CO 2 ] and E soil at high temporal resolution in girdled and nongirdled oak (Quercus robur) trees. Stem girdling was used to manipulate the contribution of R a to belowground respiration. We addressed the following hypotheses: (1) root-respired CO 2 in Q. robur trees does not solely diffuse to the soil atmosphere; rather, a portion dissolves in xylem sap and is transported upward in the transpiration stream; and (2) estimates of belowground respiration based on conventional E soil measurements underestimate R a, in particular at high sap flow during the daytime. Materials and Methods Study site The study site was a managed 9-yr-old oak (Quercus robur L.) plantation located in Zwijnaarde technologiepark, which is a research facility of Ghent University near Gent, Belgium. The soil is sandy loam with fine roots concentrated in the organic and mineral horizon (maximum depth: 30 cm) (Vande Walle et al., 2007). No understory growth was present throughout the entire plantation and therefore contributions to the autotrophic component of belowground respiration (R a ) came only from oak roots, fungal symbionts, and associated micro-organisms in the rhizosphere. Two plots of 90 m² were established within the plantation, each containing six trees. In each plot, three trees were randomly selected for measurement. Average diameter ( SD) at stem base and breast height was and cm, respectively, in the first (nongirdled) plot, hereafter referred to as the control treatment, and and cm in the second (girdled) plot, hereafter referred to as the girdling treatment (Table 1). We focused on one control and one girdling plot, because we had limited equipment for the detailed continuous measurements of soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ;mgcm 2 h 1 ), internal CO 2 concentration ([CO 2 ];%), sap flow rate (F s lh 1 ), and environmental parameters. Table 1 Stem diameter at base (0.1 m) and breast height (1.3 m) and distance from the plot center for three Quercus robur trees selected for measurement in the control and girdling treatment plots Treatment Tree Diameter at 0.1 m (cm) Diameter at 1.3 m (cm) Control Girdling Distance from center (m) These measurements at high temporal resolution were essential to understand short-term responses in belowground dynamics after stem girdling. The day before girdling, six undisturbed soil samples (0 30 cm depth) were taken per plot to determine soil bulk density and an additional eight soil subsamples per plot were taken with a soil corer and mixed to a composite sample to determine ph, organic carbon and soil texture for each plot. Analyses of soil bulk density and other soil properties were performed as described by D Haene et al. (2008). In addition, near the end of September (23 September 2011; day of year (DOY) 266), soil samples were taken at 0 30 cm depth at two locations within 1 m of each tree from which roots were collected and dried to constant weight to determine average root biomass density per plot. In the center of each plot, soil temperature and soil moisture were recorded at 7.5 and 22.5 cm with a type-t thermocouple (Omega, Amstelveen, the Netherlands) and soil moisture probe (SM-300, Delta-T, Cambridge, UK), respectively. Air temperature (type-t thermocouple; Omega, Amstelveen, the Netherlands) and relative humidity (Hygroclip; Rotronic AG, Bassersdorf, Switzerland) were measured on site and used to calculate vapor pressure deficit (VPD). All data were recorded at 1- min intervals with a datalogger (CR1000; Campbell Scientific, Logan, UT, USA). Atmospheric pressure was obtained from a weather station located 7 km from the site. Girdling treatment On 5 August 2011 (DOY 217), the girdling treatment was applied to the six trees in the girdled plot by carefully removing a 5.5-cm-wide circumferential band of bark and phloem at a height of 50 cm from the stem without damaging the xylem tissue (Fig. 1). The exposed xylem was covered with clear plastic film to prevent tissue dehydration and to allow visual inspection for formation of new bark tissue, which was removed when it occurred. In addition to the trees in the girdled plot, four trees in close proximity to the selected trees but outside the plot were girdled to avoid possible edge effects from ingrowing roots of nongirdled trees. The trees in the control plot were left intact. Soil CO 2 efflux measurements For automated measurements of E soil a PVC chamber (20 cm diameter and 15 cm height; design adapted from Suleau et al. (2009) was inserted 2 cm into the soil 40 cm from the stem base of each tree (Fig. 1). A pump (KNF Neuberger GmbH, Freiburg, Germany) was used to circulate air from the chambers to an infrared gas analyzer (GMP 343; Vaisala Inc., Helsinki, Finland) via a gas multiplexer system. At the start of a measurement cycle, the collar top of the first chamber was opened in half-open position for 1 min to allow flushing of the tubes before the chamber was closed for 4 min to determine the increase in [CO 2 ]. Chamber [CO 2 ] was recorded at 12-s intervals with a datalogger (CR1000x; Campbell Scientific). Finally, the collar top was opened. The remaining five chambers were measured sequentially in a similar manner to complete the measurement cycle. One measurement cycle lasted 30 min and measurements were made
3 New Phytologist Research 899 CO 2 via the transpiration stream (F t ;mgch 1 ) simultaneously with E soil. We quantified F t based on measurements of F s and the concentration of dissolved CO 2 in the xylem ([CO 2 *]; mm) as described by Aubrey & Teskey (2009): F t ¼ F s ½CO 2Ša Eqn 1 Fig. 1 Schematic of the experimental set-up for six Quercus robur trees, indicating the distances and positions of the stem girdle (three trees were girdled) and equipment installed on the stem and within the soil area occupied by the roots (A root ) to measure the flux of root-respired CO 2 transported in the transpiration stream and soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ). The black and grey chambers represent the measurement of E soil with automated and manual chambers, respectively. Displayed chambers were located at 40 cm from the stem. NDIR, nondispersive infrared CO 2 sensor; TDP-10, thermal dissipation probe. The stem thermocouple installed 3 cm above the NDIR sensor and the manual chambers installed 70 cm from the stem for E soil measurements are not shown. alternately in chambers in the control and girdling treatments. Based on the increase in [CO 2 ] in the chambers over time, E soil was calculated and analyzed as described by Savage et al. (2008). The most linear section in increase in [CO 2 ] over time was identified and the rate of increase (slope) over time was calculated, but only accepted if the coefficient of determination of the linear regression (i.e. R²) was > Slope estimates were scaled by chamber cross-sectional area and corrected for air temperature and atmospheric pressure to yield the CO 2 efflux rate, according to Savage et al. (2008). Automated measurements of E soil were complemented with manual measurements (EGM-1 analyzer connected to a SRC-1 chamber; PP Systems, Amesbury, MA, USA) to account for variation in E soil within the rooting area among the different cardinal directions. These measurements were performed on three additional PVC collars (diameter 20 cm; height 12 cm) installed 40 cm from each stem (Fig. 1). Later in the growing season (from DOY 231 (19 August 2011) onwards) we performed additional manual measurements with collars installed 70 cm from each stem to account for spatial variation in E soil. Manual data were collected at 3-d intervals. Both manual and automated measurements continued for 1.5 months after girdling. Xylem transport of root-respired CO 2 The six selected trees in the control and girdled plots (three per plot) were instrumented to measure the transport of root-respired (a, the atomic weight of carbon.) Xylem gaseous [CO 2 ] was measured in situ by inserting nondispersive infrared (NDIR) CO 2 sensors (model GMM221; Vaisala Inc.) in the base of each stem 5 cm above the soil (Fig. 1). Stem temperature was recorded in all trees with a type-t thermocouple (Omega), installed at 3 cm from the NDIR sensor. We assumed that xylem [CO 2 ] measured at the stem base represented the [CO 2 ] of xylem sap entering the stem from belowground. Xylem [CO 2 ] was corrected for stem temperature and atmospheric pressure. As a consequence of technical problems with the sensors, data for the control trees were limited to the period from 30 July 2011 (DOY 211) until 13 August 2011 (DOY 225). [CO 2 *] was calculated using Henry s law coefficients from xylem [CO 2 ], stem temperature and biweekly measurements of xylem sap ph (McGuire & Teskey, 2002; Erda et al., 2013). To obtain xylem ph, sap was expressed from excised twigs of nearby nongirdled trees with a pressure chamber (PMS Instruments, Corvallis, OR, USA). The expressed sap was transferred with a pipette to a solid-state ph microsensor connected to a ph meter (Hi 9124; Hanna Instruments Ltd, Bedfordshire, UK). The mean ph ( SD) of biweekly samples from five trees during the measurement period was F s was determined by scaling sap flow density (l cm 2 h 1 ) with sapwood area (cm²). Sap flow density was measured using thermal dissipation probes (model TDP- 10; Dynamax Inc., Houston, TX, USA) installed in each stem at 35 cm height with a vertical needle separation of 40 mm (Fig. 1). Zero flow was calculated based on the mean temperature difference between the needles from 03:00 to 05:00 h, assuming no or very limited nocturnal transpiration. Additional trees from the site were used to calibrate the sap flow sensors using a Mariotte-based verification system (Steppe et al., 2010) and generate site-specific calibration parameters for oak, as recommended by Bush et al. (2010), Steppe et al. (2010), and Sun et al. (2012). Stem [CO 2 ], temperature, and sap flow density were recorded with a datalogger (CR1000; Campbell Scientific) at 1-min intervals. Because E soil is expressed on a m² area basis, F t was scaled (F t s ;mgcm 2 h 1 ) with the soil area occupied by the roots (A root ;m²): F t s ¼ F t =A root Eqn 2 To estimate the soil area occupied by the roots, we excavated the entire root system of three additional trees at the same site with similar dimensions as the measured trees. Based on the radii of A root for the three additional trees (0.8, 1.2 and 0.9 m), we estimated average A root as equal to a circular area around the trees with radius 1 m (3.14 m²), as shown in Fig. 1. Manual and
4 900 Research New Phytologist automated E soil point measurements performed within this area were assumed to represent average E soil of A root. Estimation of the autotrophic component of belowground respiration We estimated R a using two methods. The first estimate of R a was made according to the approach used in previous girdling studies (R a conv ), where R a is assumed to be equal to the difference in average E soil between the control (E soil,c ) and girdling (E soil,g ) treatments, hereafter referred to as the conventional approach: R a conv ¼ðE soil;c E soil;g Þ Eqn 3 The second estimate of R a (R a-new ) additionally accounts for internal transport of root-respired CO 2 by including the difference in average F t s between the control (F t s,c ) and girdling (F t s,g ) treatments, hereafter referred to as the new approach: R a new ¼ðE soil;c E soil;g ÞþF t s;c F t s;g Eqn 4 Soluble sugars and starch concentration of fine roots We girdled three additional trees at the site for sampling fine roots for sugar and starch analysis. These samples were collected on the girdled trees and three nearby nongirdled trees on the day of girdling and 11 (16 August 2011 (DOY 228)) and 40 d after girdling (14 September 2011 (DOY 237)). The sampling dates were selected to obtain data concurrent with the flux measurements and to assess the long-term impact of girdling on fine-root soluble sugar and starch content. For sample harvesting, we carefully uncovered part of the root system and excised c. 3 mg of fine roots, according to Regier et al. (2010). Samples were immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen, transported to the laboratory and stored in a freezer at 18 C until analyzed for glucose, fructose, sucrose, and starch as described by De Schepper et al. (2012). Our intention was to use the soluble sugar and starch data to reveal the relative effect of girdling on fine-root sugar content and to identify the potential sources of root-respired CO 2. As for this purpose no absolute fine-root soluble sugar and starch concentrations (shown in Supporting Information Table S1) are needed, we normalized concentrations for each tree by dividing the post-treatment concentrations by the concentration on the day of girdling, facilitating inter-treatment comparison and accounting for variation among trees. Statistical analysis We compared daily totals of continuously measured F t and E soil for both treatments using repeated measures multifactorial analysis of variance (ANOVA). Treatment (n = 2, control and girdled) and date (n = 14) were treated as fixed factors, while the individual tree (n = 3 per treatment) was considered as a random factor. Similarly, automated and manual measurements performed at 40 cm were compared, but with fewer temporal measurements (n = 5). Finally, manual E soil measurements performed at 40 and 70 cm were compared, based on the measurements made later in the growing season (date; n = 10). Relative sugar and starch concentrations were analyzed using a similar ANOVA model, but with fewer temporal measurements (date; n = 3) and soluble sugar type (n = 4; fructose, glucose, sucrose and starch) as an additional fixed factor. Akaike s information criterion corrected for small sample sizes (AICc) was used to determine the covariance structure that best estimated the correlation among individual trees over time. All analyses were performed using the mixed model procedure (PROC MIXED) of SAS (Version 9.3; SAS Inc., Cary, NC, USA) with a = Results Impact of tree girdling on soil CO 2 efflux and xylem CO 2 transport The soil properties of the control and girdling treatment plots were similar (Table 2). Automated measurements showed that soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ) before girdling was similar in the control and the girdling treatment plots (P=0.95), with an average ( SD) of and mg C m 2 h 1, respectively (Fig. 2a). Following girdling, automated measurements showed a strong decrease in E soil in the girdling treatment, while E soil in the control treatment remained stable over time. Within 5 d, girdling significantly reduced E soil ( SD) (P = 0.02) by % relative to the control treatment (Fig. 2a). This pronounced initial decrease of E soil in the girdling treatment was followed by a slower decrease, such that, 25 d after girdling, E soil ( SD) in the girdling treatment was % lower than in the control treatment. The effect of girdling on E soil was confirmed by manual measurements of E soil 40 cm from the stem base (Fig. 2a). For manual measurements, significant differences in E soil between the control and girdling plots were observed for the last two measurement dates (P=0.01). Manual measurements of E soil tended to be slightly higher than automated measurements, but no significant differences were observed between the manual and automated measurements for the control (P = 0.92) or the girdling treatment (P = 0.51). In addition, the manual E soil measurements made at 70 cm from the stem base suggested that measurements performed at 40 cm were representative of E soil in the rooting areas of the trees in the control and girdling treatments. Before girdling, xylem CO 2 concentration, [CO 2 ], measured at the stem base was similar in the control and girdling treatments, Table 2 Soil properties ( SD) of the control and girdling treatment plots established in a Quercus robur plantation measured to a depth of 30 cm Treatment Root biomass density (g m 2 ) ph Organic carbon (%) Soil bulk density (g cm 3 ) Control Girdling ph and organic carbon were determined for one composite sample per treatment, while root biomass density (n = 8) and soil bulk density (n = 8) were averaged per treatment.
5 New Phytologist Research 901 (a) (b) Fig. 2 (a) Soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ) measured with automated and manual chambers located 40 cm from the base of three Quercus robur trees in the control treatment plot (automated, n = 3; manual, n = 9) and three Quercus robur trees in the girdling treatment plot (automated, n = 3; manual, n = 9) (see Fig. 1). (b) Stem xylem CO 2 concentration ([CO 2 ]) at 5 cm above ground level of trees in the control treatment plot (n = 3) and girdled treatment plot (n = 3) (see Fig. 1). The vertical dashed line indicates the time of girdling. The shaded areas and bars represent standard deviation. For manual measurements, only upper or lower bars are presented to improve clarity. DOY, day of year. averaging ( SD) % and %, respectively (Fig. 2b). Girdling reduced average xylem [CO 2 ] by approximately one-fifth (i.e. by %) in the girdling treatment compared with the control treatment within 5 d after girdling. Estimation of xylem CO 2 transport in control and girdled trees Before girdling, sap flow rate (F s ) was slightly higher in the girdled plot relative to the control plot, with 6-d averages ( SD) of and l h 1, respectively. After girdling, the three measured trees responded differently to the treatment: a pronounced decrease in F s sap flow was observed in one tree, while sap flow remained similar to pre-girdling rates in the other two trees. The decrease in xylem [CO 2 ] in response to girdling (Fig. 2b) influenced the magnitude of root-respired CO 2 transported with the transpiration stream (F t ). After girdling, F t scaled with the soil area occupied by the roots (F t-s ) (Fig. 3c) was lower compared with the control treatment, particularly on days with the highest sap flow. On these days, average daily total F t-s in the control treatment was significantly higher than in the girdling treatment (P = 0.03) and at peak sap flow, average maximal F t-s in the control treatment ( mg C m 2 h 1 ) more than doubled the average maximal F t-s in the girdling treatment ( mg C m 2 h 1 ). Estimation of the autotrophic component of belowground respiration For estimating the autotrophic component of belowground respiration (R a ), we used data beginning 2 d after girdling. Diel variations were less pronounced when R a was calculated with the conventional approach (R a conv ) compared with estimates
6 902 Research New Phytologist (a) (b) (c) Fig. 3 Average sap flow rate (F s ) in (a) control and (b) girdled Quercus robur trees measured with TDP-10 sap flow sensors (see Fig. 1), and (c) xylem CO 2 transport scaled with the soil area occupied by the roots (F t-s ) in control and girdled trees. The vertical dashed line indicates the time of girdling. The shaded areas represent standard deviation. DOY, day of year. (a) (b) Fig. 4 (a) Estimates of the autotrophic component of belowground respiration (R a ) calculated by the conventional approach based solely on measurements of soil CO 2 efflux (R a conv ), or calculated by the new approach, based on the combination of measurements of soil CO 2 efflux and the flux of root-respired CO 2 transported in the transpiration stream (R a new ). (b) Contribution of R a to belowground respiration, estimated according to the conventional approach and the new approach. Symbols represent 4-h averages. DOY, day of year. obtained with the new approach (R a new ) (Fig. 4a). During the daytime, an important fraction of root-respired CO 2 was transported upward in the xylem, which was not accounted for when R a was estimated according to the conventional approach. Especially on the days with highest sap flow (DOY ; Fig. 4a), large differences were observed between R a conv and R a new.
7 New Phytologist Research 903 R a conv decreased in the middle of the day, while R a new peaked during the day, when the highest sap flow occurred (Fig. 4a). We expressed R a estimates relative to belowground respiration estimated according to the conventional and new approaches (Fig. 4b). According to the conventional approach, E soil,c is an estimate of total belowground respiration. Averaged over 5 d, we ( SD) estimated that % of belowground respiration was derived from R a. With the new approach, E soil,c + F t s,c was used to estimate belowground respiration and we found that on average % of belowground respiration was contributed by the autotrophic component (Fig. 4b). Larger differences were observed on the days with highest F s (DOY ). On these days, at peak sap flow (from 12 to16 h), % and % of belowground respiration was derived from R a calculated by the conventional and new approaches, respectively. During nighttime hours, small differences were observed in R a estimates between the two approaches, because low nocturnal sap flow rates (i.e. 1 2% of the 24-h flux) had the potential to transport only a small quantity of root-respired CO 2. Analysis of fine-root samples Relative to pre-girdling values, the girdling treatment had a significant overall effect on the soluble sugar and starch concentrations of fine roots compared with the control treatment (P = 0.002) (Fig. 5). At 11 d after girdling, relative starch (Fig. 5a), sucrose (Fig. 5b) and fructose (Fig. 5c) concentrations decreased in fine roots of the girdled trees, while relative soluble sugar and starch concentrations increased in control trees. Relative concentrations were significantly different between girdled and control trees for glucose (Fig. 5d, P = 0.02) and sucrose (P = 0.04). At 40 d after girdling, relative average ( SD) sucrose and starch concentrations further decreased in girdled trees, to values % and % lower than observed before girdling, respectively, while fructose and glucose concentrations returned to the same level and increased relative to the day of girdling, respectively. In the control trees, soluble sugar and starch concentrations were higher relative to the day of girdling, with the largest increases in average starch ( SD) ( %) and sucrose ( %), the latter being significantly higher compared with the girdled trees (P = 0.036). Discussion This study provides evidence that the autotrophic component of belowground respiration (R a ) contributes to root-respired CO 2 transported in the transpiration stream (F t ). Root-respired CO 2 either diffuses from the root surface into the soil atmosphere, thereby contributing to soil CO 2 efflux (E soil ), or dissolves in xylem sap and is transported upward in the tree with the transpiration stream. Girdling reduced both E soil and F t, suggesting that efflux-based methods underestimate the contribution of R a to belowground respiration. The strong reduction in E soil after stem girdling has been described in detail in previous studies (H ogberg et al., 2001, 2009; Johnsen et al., 2007; review by Kuzyakov & Gavrichkova, 2010; Subke et al., 2011). H ogberg et al. (2001) reported decreases of up to 37% in E soil within 5 d after girdling Pinus sylvestris trees, while Subke et al. (2011) observed a similar decrease (35%) for Tsuga heterophylla trees within 2 wk after girdling. Data from our high-frequency E soil measurements agree with these previous results. We found that girdling affected E soil after 2 d and reduced E soil after 5 and 25 d by 22 and 35%, respectively, relative to E soil measured in the control treatment. Previous studies exclusively used the reduction in E soil induced by girdling to quantify the contribution of R a to belowground respiration, based on the general belief that all root-respired CO 2 diffuses into the soil and subsequently into the atmosphere. However, recent studies have suggested a large-magnitude upward flux of dissolved CO 2 in xylem of trees derived from R a (Aubrey & Teskey, 2009; Grossiord et al., 2012). Based on measurements of xylem [CO 2 ] and sap flow at the stem base of Populus deltoides trees, Aubrey & Teskey (2009) found that the internal flux of root-respired CO 2 in xylem rivaled the flux that contributed to E soil. Additionally, they calculated that only a small fraction of F t resulted from the uptake of CO 2 dissolved in the soil solution. In our study, we also simultaneously measured the internal flux of CO 2 transported in the xylem of the stems to quantify R a. Girdling reduced xylem [CO 2 ] at the stem base by 21% relative to xylem [CO 2 ] of control trees within 5 d, which was similar to the reduction observed for E soil. This result agrees with previous observations and supports our first hypothesis that a fraction of CO 2 derived from R a is transported in the transpiration stream. Simultaneous high-frequency measurements of F t and E soil in girdling and control treatment plots allowed us to re-assess our understanding of R a. When we accounted for the internal transport of root-respired CO 2, R a dynamics were more pronounced during the daytime and indicated a greater contribution of R a to belowground respiration than previously reported. In particular, on days with high sap flow, a substantial quantity of root-respired CO 2 was transported upward with the transpiration stream, especially at peak sap flow, resulting in a large underestimation of R a when calculated by the conventional efflux-based method (second hypothesis). Similarly, Grossiord et al. (2012) reported for Eucalyptus PF1 (clone 1-41) that the largest underestimation (24%) of the contribution of autotrophic sources to belowground respiration was observed between 11:00 and 15:00 h, which was associated with peak sap flow. Results of girdling studies may be prone to biases related to the interruption of assimilate flow to belowground tissues, which is assumed to reduce R a. First, girdling leads to an accelerated use of stored carbohydrates in roots (H ogberg et al., 2001, 2009; Olsson et al., 2005), that is, starch in oak trees (Barbaroux & Breda, 2002; Maunoury-Danger et al., 2010). In this case, R a would be underestimated because tree roots would still be respiring after girdling. Girdling also leads to enhanced decomposition of roots and their associated mycorrhizas by soil heterotrophs (H ogberg et al., 2001; Bhupinderpal-Singh et al., 2003; Ekberg et al., 2007), resulting in greater fungal abundance and a possible shift in the fungal community from symbiotic to saprophytic fungi in the long term (Subke et al., 2004). These rhizosphere effects could confound the appearance of reduced R a in girdled
8 904 Research New Phytologist (a) (b) (c) (d) Fig. 5 Concentration of (a) starch, (b) sucrose, (c) fructose, and (d) glucose relative to concentration on the day of girdling in the fine roots of control (grey bars) and girdled (black bars) Quercus robur trees at 11 d (16 August 2011) and 40 d (14 September 2011) after girdling. Bars represent the mean of three trees per treatment and four samples per tree. The horizontal dotted line represents the relative concentration of fineroot soluble sugars and starch on the day of girdling. Error bars represent + SD. Significant differences (P < 0.05) per date between the two treatments are indicated by different letters. plots (Kuzyakov & Larionova, 2006), leading to underestimation of R a. However, enhanced decomposition of roots and associated mycorrhizas by heterotrophs and changes in fungal abundance and community structure have been observed to occur at multiseason (H ogberg et al., 2001; Subke et al., 2004; Ekberg et al., 2007) and multi-year (Ekberg et al., 2007) scales. Therefore, we assume that these effects were negligible during our relatively short experimental period. After girdling, we observed a relative decrease in the fine-root starch concentration of the girdled trees relative to concentrations at the day of girdling (by 11% 40 d
9 New Phytologist Research 905 after girdling). At the same time, starch in fine roots of control trees increased (i.e. by 45% 40 d after girdling), probably as a result of late-season loading to maintain winter carbon reserves, as has been observed in previous studies (Barbaroux et al., 2003; Regier et al., 2010 and references therein). Increased use of starch in roots in response to girdling was observed in other field studies and has been suggested to lead to conservative estimates of R a (H ogberg et al., 2001; Frey et al., 2006). In addition, a fraction of the metabolic demand related to starch usage after girdling might be related to starch remobilization (Rodgers et al., 1995; Jordan & Habib, 1996), which suggests that the increased glucose concentrations we observed after girdling (Fig. 5d) could have resulted from hydrolysis of starch (Maunoury-Danger et al., 2010). Therefore, in our study, estimates of R a contributions to F t and E soil in the girdled plot might be lower because the increased use of stored carbohydrates potentially fueled R a after girdling. There was also potentially an effect of starch mobilization from larger roots to fine roots, as observed by Aubrey et al. (2012) in a canopy scorching experiment. All these different processes contribute to the large standard deviations in fine-root sugar concentrations observed among trees and might explain why the reduction in starch was not significant in girdled trees as compared with control trees. In spite of increased starch use, both xylem sap [CO 2 ] and E soil decreased rapidly in response to girdling, presumably as a result of the interruption of the translocation of photosynthates to the root system. Sucrose is commonly recognized as the main translocated sugar (Zimmerman, 1957; Rolland et al., 2006) and has a different nature compared with the other sugars. We observed a significant 40% reduction in sucrose concentration in fine roots in response to girdling. This result confirms previous findings that an important fraction of R a may be dependent on the rapid turnover of recent photosynthate within roots (Epron et al., 2011, 2012 and references therein). Thus, autotrophic metabolic activity that contributes to both F t and E soil is probably fueled by a combination of recent photosynthate and stored carbohydrates, as has been observed in other root respiration studies (Lynch et al., 2013). Because root-respired CO 2 both diffuses into the soil and is transported in the transpiration stream (Aubrey & Teskey, 2009) regardless of whether it is derived from recent photosynthate or stored carbohydrates, we expect that the biases caused by girdling-related increases in the use of reserves were similar for both fluxes. Secondly, girdling may affect whole-tree sap flow (Domec & Pruyn, 2008; De Schepper et al., 2010), inducing different rates of water and nutrient uptake between girdled and nongirdled trees. By removing the bark, the outer xylem tissue is exposed to air and might dry out and become nonfunctional for water transport. Moreover, a reduction in stomatal conductance of leaves after girdling related to feedback inhibition of photosynthesis (see De Schepper et al., 2010 and references therein) could reduce sap flow. During our study, we tried to avoid desiccation of exposed xylem tissues by wrapping the girdled stem section in plastic film. However, sap flow in girdled trees was reduced by 20% on average relative to control trees, which was similar to the reduction in sap flow observed in a canopy scorching study by Aubrey et al. (2012). The decrease in sap flow probably affected the estimate of R a according to both the conventional (R a-conv ) and new (R a-new ) approaches. As a consequence of a reduction in sap flow, a fraction of root-respired CO 2 might have contributed to E soil instead of being transported with the transpiration stream (Aubrey et al., 2012). In addition, previous studies have shown that internal [CO 2 ] builds up in stems when sap flow decreases, because the transpiration stream is not removing respired CO 2 from the tissues (Teskey & McGuire, 2002; McGuire et al., 2007; Saveyn et al., 2007b); a similar phenomenon may occur in roots, which would also contribute to increased efflux as a result of the larger concentration gradient. Because root-respired CO 2 both diffuses into the soil atmosphere and dissolves in the transpiration stream, the two fluxes must be investigated simultaneously to fully understand root metabolism dynamics. For instance, we observed non-temperature-related depressions in R a-conv at high F s when upward transport of root-respired CO 2 with the transpiration stream was large (DOY 222 and 223; Fig. 4). Daytime depressions in CO 2 efflux from roots related to the rate of transpiration have been observed for other species (Bekku et al., 2009, 2011) and Subke et al. (2009) observed unexpected decreases in daytime E soil related to depressions in the autotrophic component of E soil. However, these studies lacked measurements of F t to fully elucidate the observed dynamics in E soil and the tight coupling between the two fluxes. Daytime depressions in CO 2 efflux from roots could be similar to what has been observed for stems, where daytime depressions in stem CO 2 efflux were related to increased internal transport of CO 2 away from the site of respiration as a result of increased sap flow (Teskey & McGuire, 2002; Gansert & Burgdorf, 2005; McGuire et al., 2007) or changes in stem turgor pressure (Saveyn et al., 2007a). We have shown that efflux-based studies may underestimate the actual contribution of R a to belowground respiration, as has been suggested previously (Aubrey & Teskey, 2009; Grossiord et al., 2012). Especially at high sap flow rates F s, a substantial amount of root-respired CO 2 is transported upward with the transpiration stream, resulting in large underestimations in belowground respiration when R a is based solely on E soil measurements. Therefore, future studies on the contribution of R a to belowground respiration should use approaches for measuring CO 2 fluxes that include the internal transport of respired CO 2 (Bloemen et al., 2013; Trumbore et al., 2013) and consider potential factors that control the flux of root-respired CO 2 with the transpiration stream, such as sap flow. These measurements are crucial for improving the accuracy of estimates of R a and our ability to understand belowground respiration dynamics from a mechanistic point of view. Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank P. Deman and G. Favyts of the Laboratory of Plant Ecology for their enthusiastic technical support, Prof Dr L. Vanhaecke of the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety for the use of the analytical equipment for the soluble sugars and starch analysis of the fine-root samples, Dr S. Sleutel from the Department of Soil Management for help
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