Ecosystem Services, Physiology, and Biofuels Recalcitrance of Poplars Grown for Landfill Phytoremediation

Plants (Basel). 2020 Oct 14;9(10):1357. doi: 10.3390/plants9101357.


Long-term poplar phytoremediation data are lacking, especially for ecosystem services throughout rotations. We tested for rotation-age differences in biomass productivity and carbon storage of clones Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh × P. nigra L. 'DN34' and P. nigra × P. maximowiczii A. Henry 'NM6' grown for landfill phytoremediation in Rhinelander, WI, USA (45.6° N, 89.4° W). We evaluated tree height and diameter, carbon isotope discrimination (Δ), and phytoaccumulation and phytoextraction of carbon, nitrogen, and inorganic pollutants in leaves, boles, and branches. We measured specific gravity and fiber composition, and determined biofuels recalcitrance of the Rhinelander landfill trees versus these genotypes that were grown for biomass production on an agricultural site in Escanaba, MI, USA (45.8° N, 87.2° W). 'NM6' exhibited 3.4 times greater biomass productivity and carbon storage than 'DN34', yet both of the clones had similar Δ, which differed for tree age rather than genotype. Phytoaccumulation and phytoextraction were clone- and tissue-specific. 'DN34' generally had higher pollutant concentrations. Across contaminants, stand-level mean annual uptake was 28 to 657% greater for 'NM6', which indicated its phytoremediation superiority. Site-related factors (not genotypic effects) governed bioconversion potential. Rhinelander phytoremediation trees exhibited 15% greater lignin than Escanaba biomass trees, contributing to 46% lower glucose yield for Rhinelander trees.

Keywords: Populus; biomass productivity; carbon isotope discrimination (Δ); carbon storage; glucose yield; phytoaccumulation; phytoextraction; phytotechnologies; substrate enzymatic digestibility (SED); wood composition.