Biogenic volatile release from decomposing plant leaves across ecosystems

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

Plant-emitted biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) have been extensively studied due to their importance in chemical communication between species. BVOCs are also important for regional atmospheric composition as they impact both air pollution and climate via complex reactions in the atmosphere. So far, the current regional and global assessments of BVOC impacts on the atmospheric chemistry have only used the emissions from plants.  However, BVOCs can also be released from decomposing leaf litter, soil and roots, and litter is often suggested as the main source of BVOCs besides vegetation. The importance of litter BVOCs has been increasingly acknowledged, but has not been accounted for in regional and global numbers due to lack of measurement data.  

In this project, BVOC emissions from a wide range of litter samples, covering different ecosystems, will be analysed. The litter emission response to different temperature and moisture levels, as well as its linkage to litter chemical quality (C:N ratio etc.) will also be explored. The work will be conducted in laboratory using advanced instrumentation (proton transfer reaction-time of flight-mass spectrometry, PTR-TOF-MS and gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry, GC-MS. The collected data will be analysed using multivariate statistical tools , such as principal component analysis (PCA).

Due to the representative coverage of litter samples and consistent analysis method, this work will deliver important but missing dataset for modelling community. The extracted relationships from this project will be directly fed into large-scale ecosystem models to dynamically simulate present and future BVOC emissions from leaf litter at regional and global scales.

Methods used:Field sampling, laboratory incubation, GC-MS, PTR-TOF-MS, multivariate statistics
Keywords:ecosystem-atmosphere interactions, decomposition, ecological chemistry, ecosystem ecology
Project home page:
Supervisor(s):  Riikka Rinnan and other relevant persons