Isoprene emission-free poplars – a chance to reduce the impact from poplar plantations on the atmosphere
This work is dedicated to the memory of Hanns Ulrich Seitz who died on 17 August 2011.
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- •Depending on the atmospheric composition, isoprene emissions from plants can have a severe impact on air quality and regional climate. For the plant itself, isoprene can enhance stress tolerance and also interfere with the attraction of herbivores and parasitoids.
- •Here, we tested the growth performance and fitness of Populus × canescens in which isoprene emission had been knocked down by RNA interference technology (PcISPS-RNAi plants) for two growing seasons under outdoor conditions.
- •Neither the growth nor biomass yield of the PcISPS-RNAi poplars was impaired, and they were even temporarily enhanced compared with control poplars. Modelling of the annual carbon balances revealed a reduced carbon loss of 2.2% of the total gross primary production by the absence of isoprene emission, and a 6.9% enhanced net growth of PcISPS-RNAi poplars. However, the knock down in isoprene emission resulted in reduced susceptibility to fungal infection, whereas the attractiveness for herbivores was enhanced.
- •The present study promises potential for the use of non- or low-isoprene-emitting poplars for more sustainable and environmentally friendly biomass production, as reducing isoprene emission will presumably have positive effects on regional climate and air quality.