Reduction in lumen area is associated with the δ18O exchange between sugars and source water during cellulose synthesis

Paul Szejner, Timothy Clute, Erik Anderson, Michael N. Evans, Jia Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


High temporal resolution measurements of wood anatomy and the isotopic composition in tree-rings have the potential to enhance our interpretation of climate variability, but the sources of variation within the growing season are still not well understood. Here we test the response of wood anatomical features in Pinus ponderosa and Pseudotsuga menziesii, including cell-wall thickness (CWT) and lumen area (LA), along with the oxygen isotopic composition of α-cellulose (δ18Ocell) to shifts in relative humidity (RH) in two treatments, one from high–low RH and the second one form low–high RH. We observed a significant decrease in LA and a small increase in CWT within the experimental growing season in both treatments. The measured δ18Ocell along the ring was responsive to RH variations in both treatments. However, estimated δ18Ocell did not agree with measured δ18Ocell when the proportion of exchangeable oxygen during cellulose synthesis (Pex) was kept constant. We found that Pex increased throughout the ring as LA decreased. Based on this varying Pex within an annual ring, we propose a targeted sampling strategy for different hydroclimate signals: earlier season cellulose is a better recorder of RH while late-season cellulose is a better recorder of the source water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1583-1593
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • ecophysiology
  • high-resolution dendrochronology
  • quantitative wood anatomy
  • secondary growth
  • stable isotopes
  • vapor pressure deficit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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