Articles | Volume 10, issue 9
Research article
06 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 06 Sep 2013

Leaf level emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from some Amazonian and Mediterranean plants

A. Bracho-Nunez, N. M. Knothe,, S. Welter, M. Staudt, W. R. Costa, M. A. R. Liberato, M. T. F. Piedade, and J. Kesselmeier

Abstract. Emission inventories defining regional and global biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOC) emission strengths are needed to determine the impact of VOC on atmospheric chemistry (oxidative capacity) and physics (secondary organic aerosol formation and effects). The aim of this work was to contribute with measurements of tree species from the poorly described tropical vegetation in direct comparison with the quite well-investigated, highly heterogeneous emissions from Mediterranean vegetation. VOC emission from sixteen plant species from the Mediterranean area were compared with twelve plant species from different environments of the Amazon basin by an emission screening at leaf level using branch enclosures. Analysis of the volatile organics was performed online by a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer (PTR-MS) and offline by collection on adsorbent tubes and subsequent gas chromatographic analysis. Isoprene was the most dominant compound emitted followed by monoterpenes, methanol and acetone. The average loss rates of VOC carbon in relation to the net CO2 assimilation were found below 4% and indicating normal unstressed plant behavior. Most of the Mediterranean species emitted a large variety of monoterpenes, whereas only five tropical species were identified as monoterpene emitters exhibiting a quite conservative emission pattern (α-pinene < limonene < sabinene < ß-pinene). Mediterranean plants showed additional emissions of sesquiterpenes. In the case of Amazonian plants no sesquiterpenes were detected. However, missing of sesquiterpenes may also be due to a lack of sensitivity of the measuring systems. Furthermore, our screening activities cover only 1% of tree species of such tropical areas as estimated based on recent biodiversity reports. Methanol emissions, an indicator of growth, were found to be common in most of the tropical and Mediterranean species. A few species from both ecosystems showed acetone emissions. The observed heterogeneous emissions, including reactive VOC species which are not easily detected by flux measurements, give reason to perform more screening at leaf level and, whenever possible, within the forests under ambient conditions.

Final-revised paper