Shedding light on wood formation

Wood is produced in the cambium. Fundamental knowledge on the cambium activity, and its mechanisms of action, allows us to control the wood formation process in order to try to maximise productivity without compromising wood quality.

Cambium activity is being studied within selected experiments in the GCFF programme by extracting a series of microcores comprised of cambium and developing xylem at regular time intervals (bi-weekly or monthly) throughout the growing period. A Trephor tool is being used for this.

Scion scientists have developed a novel confocal fluorescence-based method for using microcores to study cambium dynamics (Dickson et al. 2017). This method enables us to determine the timing of various stages of wood formation – division, enlargement, wall thickening and lignification. In turn, this allows researchers to determine the optimal timing for applying fertilisers or growth promoting treatments.

A key advantage of microcoring is that it allows us to measure the wood formation response to a particular treatment shortly after applying it. This has been demonstrated with a recent trial where different forms of urea fertilisers (foliar spray vs granular form) were applied to mid-rotation trees. The differences between the treatments were detected by microcoring several consecutive months after applying them.

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