, Volume 99, Issue 3-4, pp 315-321

The effect of elevated carbon dioxide and fertilization on primary and secondary metabolites in birch,Betula pendula (Roth)

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Abstract

Seedlings of European white birch (Betula pendula Roth) were grown in growth chambers for one growth season under four carbon dioxide regimes (350, 700, 1050 and 1400 ppm) and at three fertilization levels (0, 100 and 500 kg ha−1 monthly). The soluble carbohydrates and secondary phenolics in the leaves and stems were analysed. It was found that fertilizer addition reduced the amounts of glucose and fructose while sucrose remained almost unaffected. The sugar content of leaves increased at 700 ppm and 1050 ppm of CO2 and decreased at the highest CO2 concentration (1400 ppm). The amounts of proanthocyanidins and flavonoids in leaves decreased with fertilization addition and increased with CO2 enrichment. The production of simple phenolic glucosides varied according to the fertilization and CO2 treatments. The triterpenoid content of stems seemed to increase with fertilization and CO2-addition. Our results indicate that the production of phytochemicals in the birch seedlings is very sensitive to both fertilization and CO2 addition, which is in agreement with earlier studies, and thus provide some support for the hypothesis of carbon allocation to plant defence when there is an excess of carbon and nutrient. The considerable variation in the production of secondary components may indicate that the synthesis of these defensive metabolites can be regulated by a plant to certain extent, depending on the ability of the plant to acclimate to changes in the physical environment.