The role of effective leaf mixing length in the relationship between the δ18 O of stem cellulose and source water across a salinity gradient

Plant Cell Environ. 2013 Jan;36(1):138-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2012.02562.x. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Previous mangrove tree ring studies attempted, unsuccessfully, to relate the δ(18) O of trunk cellulose (δ(18) O(CELL) ) to the δ(18) O of source water (δ(18) O(SW) ). Here, we tested whether biochemical fractionation associated with one of the oxygen in the cellulose glucose moiety or variation in leaf water oxygen isotope fractionation (Δ(LW) ) can interfere with the δ(18) O(SW) signal as it is recorded in the δ(18) O(CELL) of mangrove (saltwater) and hammock (freshwater) plants. We selected two transects experiencing a salinity gradient, located in the Florida Keys, USA. The δ(18) O(CELL) throughout both transects did not show the pattern expected based on that of the δ(18) O(SW) . We found that in one of the transects, biochemical fractionation interfered with the δ(18) O(SW) signal, while in the other transect Δ(LW) differed between mangrove and hammock plants. Observed differences in Δ(LW) between mangroves and hammocks were caused by a longer effective leaf mixing length (L) of the water pathway in mangrove leaves compared to those of hammock leaves. Changes in L could have caused the δ(18) O(CELL) to record not only variations in the δ(18) O(SW) but also in Δ(LW) making it impossible to isolate the δ(18) O(SW) signal.

MeSH terms

  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hydrazones / metabolism
  • Magnoliopsida / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Isotopes / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Stems / metabolism
  • Salinity*
  • Water / metabolism
  • Wetlands*


  • Hydrazones
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Water
  • glucose phenylosazone
  • Cellulose
  • Glucose