Plant and Soil

, Volume 364, Issue 1–2, pp 287–301 | Cite as

Inundation strongly stimulates nitrous oxide emissions from stems of the upland tree Fagus sylvatica and the riparian tree Alnus glutinosa

  • Katerina Machacova
  • Hans Papen
  • Jürgen KreuzwieserEmail author
  • Heinz Rennenberg
Regular Article


Background and aims

Nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) can be emitted from surfaces of riparian plants. Data on the emission of these greenhouse gases by upland trees are scarce. We quantified CH4 and N2O emissions from stems of Fagus sylvatica, an upland tree, and Alnus glutinosa, a riparian tree.


The gas fluxes were investigated in mesocosms under non-flooded control conditions and during a flooding period using static chamber systems and gas chromatographic analyses.


Despite differences in the presence of an aerenchyma system, both tree species emitted N2O and CH4 from the stems. Flooding caused a dramatic transient increase of N2O stem emissions by factors of 740 (A. glutinosa) and even 14,230 (F. sylvatica). Stem emissions of CH4 were low and even deposition was determined (F. sylvatica controls). The results suggest that CH4 was transported mainly through the aerenchyma, whereas N2O transport occurred in the xylem sap.


For the first time it has been demonstrated that upland trees such as F. sylvatica clearly significantly emit N2O from their stems despite lacking an aerenchyma. If this result is confirmed in adult trees, upland forests may constitute a new and significant source of atmospheric N2O.


Methane Nitrous oxide Soil and stem emission Alnus glutinosa Fagus sylvatica Flooding 



The present study was partially funded by DAAD (German Academic Exchange System), which is gratefully acknowledged. We would like to thank Dr. Helmer Schack-Kirchner for the soil type identification and Michael Rienks for technical support.

Supplementary material

11104_2012_1359_Fig5_ESM.jpg (144 kb)
Online Resource 1

Construction of a mesocosm for experiments with Alnus glutinosa and Fagus sylvatica (JPEG 143 kb)

11104_2012_1359_MOESM1_ESM.tif (9.9 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 10168 kb)
11104_2012_1359_Fig6_ESM.jpg (57 kb)
Online Resource 2

Construction of a stem chamber for the determination of nitrous oxide and methane emission rates from stems of Alnus glutinosa and Fagus sylvatica (JPEG 57 kb)

11104_2012_1359_MOESM2_ESM.tif (6.2 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 6364 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katerina Machacova
    • 1
  • Hans Papen
    • 2
  • Jürgen Kreuzwieser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Heinz Rennenberg
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Tree Physiology, Institute of Forest Botany and Tree PhysiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research, Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyGarmisch-PartenkirchenGermany
  3. 3.Kind Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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