Divergent biochemical fractionation, not convergent temperature, explains cellulose oxygen isotope enrichment across latitudes

Leonel Sternberg, Patricia Fernandes Vendramini Ellsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent findings based on the oxygen isotope ratios of tree trunk cellulose indicate that the temperature of biomass production in biomes ranging from boreal to subtropical forests converge to an average leaf temperature of 21.4°C. The above conclusion has been drawn under the assumption that biochemically related isotopic fractionations during cellulose synthesis are not affected by temperature. Here we test the above assumption by heterotrophically generating cellulose at different temperatures and measuring the proportion of carbohydrate oxygen that exchange with water during cellulose synthesis and the average biochemical fractionation associated with this exchange. We observed no variation in the proportion of oxygen that exchange with different temperatures, which averaged 0.42 as it has been observed in other studies. On the other hand, the biochemical oxygen isotope fractionation during cellulose synthesis is affected by temperature and can be described by a 2 nd order polynomial equation. The biochemical fractionation changes little between temperatures of 20 and 30°C averaging 26‰ but increases at lower temperatures to values of 31‰. This temperature sensitive biochemical fractionation explains the pattern of cellulose oxygen isotope ratios of aquatic plants encompassing several latitudes. The observed temperature sensitive biochemical fractionation also indicates that divergent biochemical fractionation and not convergent leaf temperature explains the increase in oxygen isotope enrichment of cellulose across several biomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere28040
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 21 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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