Separating soil and leaf water 18O isotopic signals in plant stem cellulose

Leonel da Silveira Lobo Sternberg, William T. Anderson, Kanema Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The oxygen-18 signal of soil and leaf water are both recorded in heterotrophically synthesized plant stem cellulose. Presently, these signals can only be teased apart with modeling and assumptions on the nature of the isotopic enrichment of leaf water. A method by which these two signals are chemically separated and analyzed is tested here. Heterotrophically synthesized cellulose from germinating seeds having a mixture of isotopic signals from the reserve carbohydrate (starch) and that of the water during cellulose synthesis was hydrolyzed and the resulting glucose converted to glucose phenylosazone. The analysis of the 18O/16O ratios of cellulose and of glucose phenylosazone were used to calculate the oxygen isotope ratio of the oxygen attached to the second carbon of the glucose moieties of the cellulose molecule. The calculated δ18O value of this oxygen was highly correlated with that of the water available for cellulose synthesis showing a nearly one-to-one relationship (slope = 1.027) and leading to the conclusion that it completely exchanges with water during heterotrophic cellulose synthesis. Once this method is refined so as to increase precision, it will be possible to derive the δ18O values of soil water available to plants from the oxygen isotope analysis of stem cellulose and its derivative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2561-2566
Number of pages6
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Separating soil and leaf water <sup>18</sup>O isotopic signals in plant stem cellulose'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this