Ylva van Meeningen. Photo.

Ylva van Meeningen

Research administrator

Ylva van Meeningen. Photo.

Is genetic diversity more important for terpene emissions than latitudinal adaptation? : Using genetically identical trees to better understand emission fluctuations across a European gradient

Är genetisk diversitet viktigare för terpen-utsläpp än anpassning till latitud? : Användandet av genetiskt identiska träd för att öka förståelsen för utsläppsfluktuationer läng med en europeisk gradient


  • Ylva van Meeningen

Summary, in English

Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are trace gases other than CO2 and CH4 produced and emitted by the vegetation. The group consists of thousands of compounds in various shapes and sizes and with short atmospheric lifetimes. Some of the most common BVOC groups are called isoprene, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. For the plant, the emission of BVOCs is used for plant communication, attracting pollinators, to deter herbivores and to enhance abiotic stress defense against for example high temperatures, irradiation or oxidative stresses. But once released into the atmosphere, they are affecting the atmospheric chemistry which in effect alters our climate. Depending on the atmospheric composition, BVOC emissions can either enhance tropospheric ozone and indirectly prolong the lifetimes of greenhouse gases such as methane by reducing the concentration of hydroxyl radicals, or increase the formation of aerosols and cloud condensation nuclei which may mitigate the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming.
It is fairly well known that BVOCs have an impact on the climate. However, whether the BVOC emissions have a warming or cooling effect on the overall climate is difficult to determine due to existing emission pattern variations both between individuals of the same species and between species. Some of the reasons which are often discussed to be influential and where there is relatively little data available are within-species genetic variation, stress response, adaptation to different weather and climatic conditions and seasonality. In this thesis, focus has been given to the importance of genetic diversity and adaptation to different growing conditions. Studies have been conducted on three European tree species with genetically identical individuals across a latitudinal gradient, stretching from Slovenia to southern Finland. The main results were that even though the emission amounts varied between sites due to differences in weather events, the progression of the growing season and insect outbreaks, the compound composition between individuals were similar both across latitudes and between measurement years. By showing compound composition stability for genetically identical trees, the results highlights the importance of taking genetic diversity into account in terms of observed emission pattern variations. The response to changing light conditions on the emission amount of different compounds was also investigated. The results uncovered that different compounds had different emission responses to changing light conditions, but that the response of the compounds were fairly similar across different species.


  • Physical Geography


  • BVOC
  • English oak
  • European beech
  • Norway spruce
  • genetic diversity
  • European gradient




  • Guy Schurgers
  • Riikka Rinnan
  • Thomas Holst


  • ISBN: 978-91-85793-82-2
  • ISBN: 978-91-85793-81-5

Defence date

1 June 2017

Defence time


Defence place

Lecture hall “Pangea”, Geocentre II, Sölvegatan 12, Lund


  • Jaana Bäck (Professor)