Leaf-scale study of biogenic volatile organic compound emissions from willow (Salix spp.) short rotation coppices covering two growing seasons

Tomas Karlsson, Leif Klemedtsson, Riikka Rinnan, Thomas Holst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Europe, willow (Salix spp.) trees have been used commercially since the 1980s at a large scale to produce renewable energy. While reducing fossil fuel needs, growing short rotation coppices (SRCs), such as poplar or willow, may have a high impact on local air quality as these species are known to produce high amounts of isoprene, which can lead to the production of tropospheric ozone (O3). Here, we present a long-term leaf-scale study of biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions from a Swedish managed willow site with the aim of providing information on the seasonal variability in BVOC emissions during two growing seasons, 2015–2016. Total BVOC emissions during these two seasons were dominated by isoprene (>96% by mass) and the monoterpene (MT) ocimene. The average standardized (STD, temperature of 30C and photosynthetically active radiation of 1000 µmol m−2 s−1) emission rate for isoprene was 45.2 (±42.9, standard deviation (SD)) µg gdw−1 h−1. Isoprene varied through the season, mainly depending on the prevailing temperature and light, where the measured emissions peaked in July 2015 and August 2016. The average STD emission for MTs was 0.301 (±0.201) µg gdw−1 h−1 and the MT emissions decreased from spring to autumn. The average STD emission for sesquiterpenes (SQTs) was 0.103 (±0.249) µg gdw−1 h−1, where caryophyllene was the most abundant SQT. The measured emissions of SQTs peaked in August both in 2015 and 2016. Non-terpenoid compounds were grouped as other VOCs (0.751 ± 0.159 µg gdw−1 h−1), containing alkanes, aldehydes, ketones, and other compounds. Emissions from all the BVOC groups decreased towards the end of the growing season. The more sun-adapted leaves in the upper part of the plantation canopy emitted higher rates of isoprene, MTs, and SQTs compared with more shade-adapted leaves in the lower canopy. On the other hand, emissions of other VOCs were lower from the upper part of the canopy compared with the lower part. Light response curves showed that ocimene and α-farnesene increased with light but only for the sun-adapted leaves, since the shade-adapted leaves did not emit ocimene and α-farnesene. An infestation with Melampsora spp. likely induced high emissions of, e.g., hexanal and nonanal in August 2015. The results from this study imply that upscaling BVOC emissions with model approaches should account for seasonality and also include the canopy position of leaves as a parameter to allow for better estimates for the regional and global budgets of ecosystem emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1427
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Geography
  • Environmental Sciences

Free keywords

  • BVOCs
  • GC-MS
  • Leaf rust
  • Leaf-scale
  • Non-terpenoids
  • Salix plantation
  • Terpenoids
  • Willow


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