What’s going on here then? Is it the arrival of a sentient machine from another planet, interfacing with the local plant-life for purposes unknown? I’m afraid not, contact with ET will have to wait. What we have here is a new technique, pioneered by the USDA Forest Service, for measuring the below-ground sequestration of carbon in a forest environment. In the past this would have involved girdling the trees, cutting through the phloem tubes to halt the downward flow of carbon into the roots, killing the tree in the process. This new method, scaled up from methods for smaller plants under greenhouse conditions, uses chilled (~1.5 °C) fluid in jackets of copper tubing around the tree-trunk, to interrupt the phloem temporarily. The researchers found that the chilling method produced exactly the same results as traditional girdling methods, but left healthy, living trees behind.

The full article appears in the current issue of "Plant, Cell & Environment" and should be making an appearance in CAB Abstracts soon.

Photo Credit : US Forestry Service

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