iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Wood anatomy of boreal species in a warming world: a review

Shaokang Zhang (1-2-3)   , Evelyn Belien (4), Hai Ren (1-3), Sergio Rossi (1-3-4), Jian-Guo Huang (1-2-3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 13, Issue 2, Pages 130-138 (2020)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3230-013
Published: Apr 09, 2020 - Copyright © 2020 SISEF

Review Papers

Global warming is affecting tree growth and forest productivity, especially in the Northern boreal ecosystems. Wood quality, which is largely determined by anatomical traits of wood, is vital for the forest industry and global carbon sequestration. Cambium activity, wood density, fiber length and microfibril angle are the anatomical traits that determine wood quality, depending on market demands. Within the global warming scenario, a comprehensive understanding of these traits is still lacking and urgently required for both the forest industries and ecological researches. In this review, we identify that large proportions of mature wood, high wood density, longer fiber or tracheid length and low microfibril angles are the anatomical traits closely related with high wood quality. Higher temperatures could trigger onset and ending of cambial cell division, thus affecting wood quality by modulating duration of the growing season. Climate warming could also affect wood quality by impacting earlywood and latewood formation, as well as changing wood density, fiber length and microfibril angle depending on different species and growing conditions. In addition, this review indicates that the anatomical traits involved in wood quality are diverse and depend on the intended use. Improving our knowledge about the underlying mechanisms of how the wood anatomical traits respond to a changing environment with extreme climate events is thus still a crucial topic in the forest sciences. Selection of species and provenances best adapted to climate warming will be necessary to improve quality without sacrificing volume. Studies on wood traits and their relation to climate should therefore focus on a multitude of aspects including the physiology and genetics of boreal tree species.


Climate Warming, Earlywood, Fiber Length, Latewood, Microfibril Angle, Radial Growth, Wood Formation

Authors’ address

Shaokang Zhang
Hai Ren 0000-0002-3744-8007
Sergio Rossi 0000-0002-9919-0494
Jian-Guo Huang
Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650 (China)
Shaokang Zhang
Jian-Guo Huang
Gannan Normal University, Ganzhou, Jiangxi, 341000 (China)
Shaokang Zhang
Hai Ren 0000-0002-3744-8007
Sergio Rossi 0000-0002-9919-0494
Jian-Guo Huang
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650 (China)
Evelyn Belien
Sergio Rossi 0000-0002-9919-0494
Département des Sciences Fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi (QC) G7H2B1 (Canada)

Corresponding author

Shaokang Zhang


Zhang S, Belien E, Ren H, Rossi S, Huang J-G (2020). Wood anatomy of boreal species in a warming world: a review. iForest 13: 130-138. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3230-013

Academic Editor

Rodolfo Picchio

Paper history

Received: Sep 05, 2019
Accepted: Jan 26, 2020

First online: Apr 09, 2020
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2020
Publication Time: 2.47 months

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