Researchers are using dogwood trees to gain a better understanding of the role played by photosynthesis and respiration in the atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) cycle.
Using a traceable form of CO2 made with a stable carbon isotope, the researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have labelled the trees individually; creating a pulse of carbon that could be tracked as it moved through a tree.
Jeff Warren, a scientist in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Environmental Sciences Division, said: ‘Carbon flow within plants has always been studied but has never fully been understood.
‘Our experiment will help us understand the fate of CO2 after it is taken into a plant. It will show us which structures receive the carbon and how quickly the carbon travels through the system.’
The team believes its findings could help computer modellers improve the accuracy of climate simulations.