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The short-term influence of adequate and high nitrogen fertilization on poplar lignification was investigated. The high nitrogen supply decreased lignin staining in the newly formed secondary xylem, indicating that lignin deposition was affected. Acetyl bromide determinations gave a 9-10% decrease in lignin content; however, Klason lignin content was unchanged. Thioacidolysis showed that elevated N supply affected lignin structure such that there was a reduced frequency of lignin units involved in beta-O-4 bonds, a reduced syringyl/guaiacyl ratio, an increased frequency of p-hydroxyphenyl lignin units, more guaiacyl units with free phenolic groups, and more p-hydroxybenzoic acid ester-linked to poplar lignins. These features suggest that lignins from poplars grown under high N bear structural similarities to lignins formed during early stages of wood development. The findings also indicate that a gravitational stimulus inducing the formation of tension wood and high N availability lead to similar and additive effects on lignin content and structure.

Original publication




Journal article


J Agric Food Chem

Publication Date





10306 - 10314


Fertilizers, Lignin, Nitrogen, Populus, Wood