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Journal Articles Tree Physiology Year : 2015

Non-structural carbohydrates in woody plants compared among laboratories

1 CSIRO - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation [Canberra]
2 Western Sydney University
3 CSU - Colorado State University [Fort Collins]
4 USDA - United States Department of Agriculture
5 LANL - Los Alamos National Laboratory
6 EEF - Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestières [devient SILVA en 2018]
7 University of Alberta
8 PIAF - Laboratoire de Physique et Physiologie Intégratives de l'Arbre Fruitier et Forestier
9 BFP - Biologie du fruit et pathologie
10 Plateforme Bordeaux Metabolome
11 Princeton University
12 ANU - Australian National University
13 UTAS - University of Tasmania [Hobart, Australia]
14 UMR AGAP - Amélioration génétique et adaptation des plantes méditerranéennes et tropicales
15 HUJ - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
16 OSU - Oregon State University
17 Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
18 University of Freiburg [Freiburg]
19 MPI-BGC - Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
20 Unibas - Université de Bâle = University of Basel
21 MSU - Montana State University
22 Hokkaido University [Sapporo, Japan]
23 University of Barcelona
24 IPE - CSIC - Instituto Pirenaico de Ecologìa = Pyrenean Institute of Ecology [Zaragoza]
25 UBC - University of British Columbia
26 LEPSE - Écophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress environnementaux
27 UPV - Universitat Politècnica de València = Universitad Politecnica de Valencia = Polytechnic University of Valencia
28 CIEP - Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia - Universidad Austral de Chile
29 University of Vienna [Vienna]
30 WUR - Wageningen University and Research [Wageningen]
31 UWO - University of Western Ontario
32 EMU - Estonian University of Life Sciences
33 TUAT - Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
34 Duke University [Durham]
35 University of Peradeniya
36 GU - Göteborgs Universitet = University of Gothenburg
37 USDA - USDA Agricultural Research Service [Maricopa, AZ]
Shinichi Asao
David S. Ellsworth
Jordi Martínez-Vilalta
Annick Moing
Eran Raveh
  • Function : Author
Andreas Richter
Renee A. Smith
  • Function : Author
Erin Wiley
  • Function : Author


Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in plant tissue are frequently quantified to make inferences about plant responses to environmental conditions. Laboratories publishing estimates of NSC of woody plants use many different methods to evaluate NSC. We asked whether NSC estimates in the recent literature could be quantitatively compared among studies. We also asked whether any differences among laboratories were related to the extraction and quantification methods used to determine starch and sugar concentrations. These questions were addressed by sending sub-samples collected from five woody plant tissues, which varied in NSC content and chemical composition, to 29 laboratories. Each laboratory analyzed the samples with their laboratory-specific protocols, based on recent publications, to determine concentrations of soluble sugars, starch and their sum, total NSC. Laboratory estimates differed substantially for all samples. For example, estimates for Eucalyptus globulus leaves (EGL) varied from 23 to 116 (mean = 56) mg g(-1) for soluble sugars, 6-533 (mean = 94) mg g-1 for starch and 53-649 (mean = 153) mg g-1 for total NSC. Mixed model analysis of variance showed that much of the variability among laboratories was unrelated to the categories we used for extraction and quantification methods (method category R-2 = 0.05-0.12 for soluble sugars, 0.10-0.33 for starch and 0.01-0.09 for total NSC). For EGL, the difference between the highest and lowest least squares means for categories in the mixed model analysis was 33 mg g-1 for total NSC, compared with the range of laboratory estimates of 596 mg g-1. Laboratories were reasonably consistent in their ranks of estimates among tissues for starch (r = 0.41-0.91), but less so for total NSC (r = 0.45-0.84) and soluble sugars (r = 0.11-0.83). Our results show that NSC estimates for woody plant tissues cannot be compared among laboratories. The relative changes in NSC between treatments measured within a laboratory may be comparable within and between laboratories, especially for starch. To obtain comparable NSC estimates, we suggest that users can either adopt the reference method given in this publication, or report estimates for a portion of samples using the reference method, and report estimates for a standard reference material. Researchers interested in NSC estimates should work to identify and adopt standard methods.

Dates and versions

hal-01557364 , version 1 (06-07-2017)



Audrey G. Quentin, Elizabeth A. Pinkard, Michael G. Ryan, David T. Tissue, L. Scott Baggett, et al.. Non-structural carbohydrates in woody plants compared among laboratories. Tree Physiology, 2015, 35 (11), pp.1146-1165. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpv073⟩. ⟨hal-01557364⟩
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