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Plant and Soil

, Volume 308, Issue 1–2, pp 239–253 | Cite as

The influence of soil type and altered lignin biosynthesis on the growth and above and belowground biomass allocation of Populus tremuloides

  • Jessica E. Hancock
  • Kate L. Bradley
  • Christian P. GiardinaEmail author
  • Kurt S. Pregitzer
Regular Article

Abstract

Plants influence soil carbon (C) formation through the quality and quantity of C released to soil. Soil type, in turn can modify a plant’s influence on soil through effects on plant production, tissue quality and regulation of soil C decomposition and stabilization. Wild-type aspen and three transgenic aspen lines expressing reduced stem lignin concentrations and/or increased syringyl (S) to guaiacyl (G) ratio lignin were grown in greenhouse mesocosms containing a sandy loam, a silt loam, or a clay loam soil for 6 months in order to examine the effects of altered lignin biosynthesis and soil type on biomass partitioning (above vs. belowground) and soil C processes. Results indicated that soil type significantly affected plant performance. Aspen grown in soils with high sand/low clay content accumulated the most total biomass, while aspen grown in soils with high clay content accumulated the least total biomass. These reductions in growth combined with specific soil characteristics led to differences among soil types in soil C formation. Transformed aspen expressing high syringyl/guaiacyl (S/G) lignin accumulated less total plant C and subsequently accumulated less aspen derived C in soil. Reduced lignin content alone in aspen did not affect plant growth or soil C formation. There were significant soil type × genetic line interactions indicating that growth and soil C formation for transgenic and wild type aspen lines varied among the different soil types. Given these interactions, future investigation needs to include long-term field studies across a range of soil types before transgenic aspen are widely planted.

Keywords

Biomass allocation Growth physiology Plant productivity Soil carbon formation Soil texture syringyl to guaiacyl ratio 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Cassie Miller and Noah Karberg for their assistance in the greenhouse and the lab and Drs. Chung-Jui and Scott Harding for invaluable advice on plant maintenance. Additionally we would like to thank Dr. John Adler and the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Technological University for use of greenhouse facilities. We also thank the Pawnee National Grassland, Konza Prairie Biological Station, and the Blackland Research and Extension Center in Temple Texas, for access to soils used in this experiment. Finally, we greatly appreciate funding and support from the US Department of Energy, the Northern and Pacific Southwest Research Stations of the USDA Forest Service, and the graduate school of Michigan Technological University.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica E. Hancock
    • 1
  • Kate L. Bradley
    • 1
  • Christian P. Giardina
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kurt S. Pregitzer
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecosystem Science Center, School of Forest Resources and Environmental ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  2. 2.PSW Research StationInstitute of Pacific Islands Forestry-USDA Forest ServiceHiloUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA

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