The aim of this study was to examine the effects of elevated carbon dioxide [CO2] and ozone [O3] and their interaction on wood chemistry and anatomy of five clones of 3-year-old trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.). Wood chemistry was studied also on paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) seedling-origin saplings of the same age. Material for the study was collected from the Aspen Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiment in Rhinelander, WI, USA, where the saplings had been exposed to four treatments: control (C; ambient CO2, ambient O3), elevated CO2 (560 ppm during daylight hours), elevated O3 (1.5 × ambient during daylight hours) and their combination (CO2+O3) for three growing seasons (1998–2000). Wood chemistry responses to the elevated CO2 and O3 treatments differed between species. Aspen was most responsive, while maple was the least responsive of the three tree species. Aspen genotype affected the responses of wood chemistry and, to some extent, wood structure to the treatments. The lignin concentration increased under elevated O3 in four clones of aspen and in birch. However, elevated CO2 ameliorated the effect. In two aspen clones, nitrogen in wood samples decreased under combined exposure to CO2 and O3. Soluble sugar concentration in one aspen clone and starch concentration in two clones were increased by elevated CO2. In aspen wood, α-cellulose concentration changed under elevated CO2, decreasing under ambient O3 and slightly increasing under elevated O3. Hemicellulose concentration in birch was decreased by elevated CO2 and increased by elevated O3. In aspen, elevated O3 induced statistically significant reductions in distance from the pith to the bark and vessel lumen diameter, as well as increased wall thickness and wall percentage, and in one clone, decreased fibre lumen diameter. Our results show that juvenile wood properties of broadleaves, depending on species and genotype, were altered by atmospheric gas concentrations predicted for the year 2050 and that CO2 ameliorates some adverse effects of elevated O3 on wood chemistry.
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