Variation in Populus euphratica foliar carbon isotope composition and osmotic solute for different groundwater depths in an arid region of China

  • Jianhua Si
  • Qi Feng
  • Tengfei Yu
  • Chunyan Zhao
  • Wei Li


Water use efficiency (WUE) is an important trait associated with plant acclimation caused by water deficits, and δ13C is a good surrogate of WUE under conditions of water deficits. Water deficiency also enhances the accumulation of compatible solutes in the leaves. In this study, variations in foliar δ13C values and main osmotic solutes were investigated. Those included total soluble sugar (TSS), sucrose, free proline, glycine betaine (GB), and inorganic ionic (K+, Ca2+, and Cl) content of Populus euphratica for different groundwater depths in a Ejina desert riparian forest, China. Results indicated that foliar δ13C values in the P. euphratica for different groundwater depths ranged from −29.14 ± 0.06 to −25.84 ± 0.04 ‰. Foliar δ13C signatures became richer as groundwater levels declined. TSS, sucrose, free proline, GB, and K+ were accumulated in P. euphratica foliage with developing plant growth and increasing groundwater depth. Ca2+ and Cl content increased under stronger P. euphratica transpiration rates for shallower groundwater depths (1–2.5 m) and decreased for deeper groundwater depths (greater than 3.0 m). Moreover, correlations between δ13C, osmotic solutes, and groundwater depths showed that the primary osmotic solutes were TSS, sucrose, proline, GB, and K+. Correlations also showed that δ13C was not only a useful measure for P. euphratica-integrated WUE but also could be used as an indicator reflecting some physiological osmotic indexes.


Water use efficiency Stable carbon isotope Osmotic solutes Groundwater depth Populus euphratica 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation Major Research Plan (91025024), the Key Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZZD-EW-04-05), and the “Western Light” Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianhua Si
    • 1
  • Qi Feng
    • 1
  • Tengfei Yu
    • 1
  • Chunyan Zhao
    • 1
  • Wei Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzouChina

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