UV-laser-based microscopic dissection of tree rings – a novel sampling tool for δ13C and δ18O studies



  • UV-laser-based microscopic systems were utilized to dissect and sample organic tissue for stable isotope measurements from thin wood cross-sections.
  • We tested UV-laser-based microscopic tissue dissection in practice for high-resolution isotopic analyses (δ13C/δ18O) on thin cross-sections from different tree species. The method allows serial isolation of tissue of any shape and from millimetre down to micrometre scales. On-screen pre-defined areas of interest were automatically dissected and collected for mass spectrometric analysis.
  • Three examples of high-resolution isotopic analyses revealed that: in comparison to δ13C of xylem cells, woody ray parenchyma of deciduous trees have the same year-to-year variability, but reveal offsets that are opposite in sign depending on whether wholewood or cellulose is considered; high-resolution tree-ring δ18O profiles of Indonesian teak reflect monsoonal rainfall patterns and are sensitive to rainfall extremes caused by ENSO; and seasonal moisture signals in intra-tree-ring δ18O of white pine are weighted by nonlinear intra-annual growth dynamics.
  • The applications demonstrate that the use of UV-laser-based microscopic dissection allows for sampling plant tissue at ultrahigh resolution and unprecedented precision. This new technique facilitates sampling for stable isotope analysis of anatomical plant traits like combined tree eco-physiological, wood anatomical and dendroclimatological studies.