Synopsis of the CASIROZ case study: carbon sink strength of Fagus sylvatica L. in a changing environment--experimental risk assessment of mitigation by chronic ozone impact

Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2007 Mar;9(2):163-80. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-964883.


Databases are needed for the ozone (O(3)) risk assessment on adult forest trees under stand conditions, as mostly juvenile trees have been studied in chamber experiments. A synopsis is presented here from an integrated case study which was conducted on adult FAGUS SYLVATICA trees at a Central-European forest site. Employed was a novel free-air canopy O(3) fumigation methodology which ensured a whole-plant assessment of O(3) sensitivity of the about 30 m tall and 60 years old trees, comparing responses to an experimental 2 x ambient O(3) regime (2 x O(3), max. 150 nl O(3) l (-1)) with those to the unchanged 1 x ambient O(3) regime (1 x O(3)=control) prevailing at the site. Additional experimentation on individual branches and juvenile beech trees exposed within the forest canopy allowed for evaluating the representativeness of young-tree and branch-bag approaches relative to the O(3) sensitivity of the adult trees. The 2 x O(3) regime did not substantially weaken the carbon sink strength of the adult beech trees, given the absence of a statistically significant decline in annual stem growth; a 3 % reduction across five years was demonstrated, however, through modelling upon parameterization with the elaborated database. 2 x O(3) did induce a number of statistically significant tree responses at the cell and leaf level, although the O(3) responsiveness varied between years. Shade leaves displayed an O(3) sensitivity similar to that of sun leaves, while indirect belowground O(3) effects, apparently mediated through hormonal relationships, were reflected by stimulated fine-root and ectomycorrhizal development. Juvenile trees were not reliable surrogates of adult ones in view of O(3) risk assessment. Branch sections enclosed in (climatized) cuvettes, however, turned out to represent the O(3) sensitivity of entire tree crowns. Drought-induced stomatal closure decoupled O(3) intake from O(3) exposure, as in addition, also the "physiologically effective O(3) dose" was subject to change. No evidence emerged for a need to lower the "Critical Level for Ozone" in risk assessment of forest trees, although sensitive tree parameters did not necessarily reflect a linear relationship to O(3) stress. Exposure-based concepts tended to overestimate O(3) risk under drought, which is in support of current efforts to establish flux-related concepts of O(3) intake in risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Environment*
  • Fagus / drug effects*
  • Fagus / metabolism*
  • Ozone / pharmacology*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Ozone
  • Carbon