Measuring the ratio of CO2 efflux to O2 influx in tree stem respiration

Boaz Hilman, Alon Angert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In recent studies, the ratio of tree stem CO2 efflux to O2 influx has been defined as the apparent respiratory quotient (ARQ). The metabolism of carbohydrates, the putative respiratory substrate in trees, is expected to yield an ARQ of 1.0. However, previous studies have reported ARQ values ranging between 0.23 and 0.90. These interesting results may indicate internal transport of respired CO2 within stems; yet no simple field applicable methods for ARQ measurement have been available. Here, we report on the assembly of a closed circulating system called 'Hampadah', which uses CO2 and O2 analyzers to measure air samples from stem chambers. We tested the performance of the Hampadah with samples from 36 trees (Tetragastris panamensis (Engl.) Kuntze). Additionally, we showed the feasibility of measuring ARQ directly from stem chambers, using portable CO2 and O2 sensors, in both discrete and continuous modes of operation. The Hampadah measurement proved to be consistent with CO2 gas standards (R2 = 0.999) and with O2 determined by O2/Ar measurements with a mass spectrometer (R2 = 0.998). The Hampadah gave highly reproducible results for ARQ determination of field samples (±0.01 for duplicates). The portable sensors measurement showed good correlation with the Hampadah in measuring CO2, O2 and ARQ (n = 5, R2 = 0.97, 0.98 and 0.91, respectively). We have demonstrated here that the Hampadah and the sensors' methods enable accurate ARQ measurements for both laboratory and field research.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1422-1431
Number of pages10
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

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© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:


  • O2 measurement
  • RQ
  • oxygen measurement
  • respiratory quotient


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