Plant, cell & environment

Climate change alters leaf anatomy, but has no effects on volatile emissions from Arctic plants.

PMID 25737381


Biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions are expected to change substantially because of the rapid advancement of climate change in the Arctic. BVOC emission changes can feed back both positively and negatively on climate warming. We investigated the effects of elevated temperature and shading on BVOC emissions from arctic plant species Empetrum hermaphroditum, Cassiope tetragona, Betula nana and Salix arctica. Measurements were performed in situ in long-term field experiments in subarctic and high Arctic using a dynamic enclosure system and collection of BVOCs into adsorbent cartridges analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. In order to assess whether the treatments had resulted in anatomical adaptations, we additionally examined leaf anatomy using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Against expectations based on the known temperature and light-dependency of BVOC emissions, the emissions were barely affected by the treatments. In contrast, leaf anatomy of the studied plants was significantly altered in response to the treatments, and these responses appear to differ from species found at lower latitudes. We suggest that leaf anatomical acclimation may partially explain the lacking treatment effects on BVOC emissions at plant shoot-level. However, more studies are needed to unravel why BVOC emission responses in arctic plants differ from temperate species.