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Keywords:

  • biomass production;
  • modelling;
  • non-isoprene emitting;
  • outdoor conditions;
  • Populus × canescens

Summary

  • 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.