Tree carbon relations

Tree Ecophysiology

Almost 90% of the global biomass is stored in trees. Knowing the reactions of trees and forests to the ongoing increase in atmospheric COconcentrations and other global climate changes is thus of major importance to predict the future of the earth's biosphere and its feedback with the atmosphere. Together with my research group, I investigate carbon relations of trees with special emphasis on the effects of environmental stress.

A core research topic is the clarification of the physiological controls for the storage of carbon reserves (e.g. starch or storage lipids). While there is detailed knowledge about the regulation of carbon storage and re-mobilization at the level of individual leaves, these mechanisms are still largely unknown for sapwood, which resembles the largest carbon storage pool in trees. By combining experimental studies with field observations, we aim to identify how carbon reserves storage is controlled at the whole tree level, how climatic and biotic stress influences carbon storage, and how tissue concentrations of carbon storage compounds can be used as a proxy for the net tree carbon balance. In addition, we experimentally test the functional significance of a tree's carbon storage pool for its resilience under climatic stress, like drought and cold temperatures.


Recent Publications

  • Soil nutrients and lowered source:sink ratio mitigate effects of mild but not of extreme drought in trees
    Schoenbeck, Leonie; Gessler, Arthur; Schaub, Marcus; Rigling, Andreas; Hoch, Guenter; Kahmen A, Li MH
    Environmental And Experimental Botany,  DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2019.103905  JAN 2020
  • Plant respiration: Controlled by photosynthesis or biomass?
    Collalti, Alessio; Tjoelker, Mark G.; Hoch, Guenter; Makela, Annikki; Guidolotti, Gabriele; et al.
    Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14857 
  • High carbon storage in carbon-limited trees
    Weber, R; Gessler, A; Hoch, G
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 222 (1):171-182; 10.1111/nph.15599 APR 2019
  • No role for xylem embolism or carbohydrate shortage in temperate trees during the severe 2015 drought
    Dietrich, L; Delzon, S; Hoch, G; Kahmen, A
    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 107 (1):334-349; 10.1111/1365-2745.13051 JAN 2019
  • Standardized protocols and procedures can precisely and accurately quantify non-structural carbohydrates
    Landhausser, SM; Chow, PS; Dickman, LT; Furze, ME; Kuhlman, I; Schmid, S; Wiesenbauer, J; Wild, B; Gleixner, G; Hartmann, H; Hoch, G; McDowell, NG; Richardson, AD; Richter, A; Adams, HD
    TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 38 (12):1764-1778; 10.1093/treephys/tpy118 DEC 2018
  • Losing half the conductive area hardly impacts the water status of mature trees
    Dietrich, L; Hoch, G; Kahmen, A; Korner, C
    SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 8 10.1038/s41598-018-33465-0 OCT 9 2018
  • Linkage of root morphology to anatomy with increasing nitrogen availability in six temperate tree species
    Wang, WN; Wang, Y; Hoch, G; Wang, ZQ; Gu, JC
    PLANT AND SOIL, 425 (1-2):189-200; 10.1007/s11104-018-3563-3 APR 2018
  • Elevated CO2 compensates for drought effects in lemon saplings via stomatal downregulation, increased soil moisture, and increased wood carbon storage 
    Paudel, Indira; Halpern, Moshe; Wagner, Yael; et al. 
    ENVIRONMENTAL AND EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 148: 117-127 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2018.01.004 APR 2018
  • No carbon "bet hedging" in pine seedlings under prolonged summer drought and elevated CO2 
    Bachofen, Christoph; Moser, Barbara; Hoch, Guenter; et al. 
    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 106 (1): 31-46 10.1111/1365-2745.12822 JAN 2018
  • Dying piece by piece: carbohydrate dynamics in aspen (Populus tremuloides) seedlings under severe carbon stress 
    Wiley, Erin; Hoch, Gunter; Landhausser, Simon M. 
    JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 68 (18): 5221-5232 AUG 15 2017
  • Single-provenance mature conifers show higher non-structural carbohydrate storage and reduced growth in a drier location 
    Piper, Frida I.; Fajardo, Alex; Hoch, Gunter 
    TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 37 (8): 1001-1010 AUG 2017
  • Endogenous circadian rhythms in pigment composition induce changes in photochemical efficiency in plant canopies 
    Ignacio Garcia-Plazaola, Jose; Fernandez-Marin, Beatriz; Pedro Ferrio, Juan; et al. 
    PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT, 40 (7): 1153-1162 JUL 2017
Günter Hoch

PD Dr. Günter Hoch
University of Basel
Dept of Environmental Sciences – Botany
4056 Basel

Tel: +41 (0)61 207 35 14

Research topics

  • Carbon storage of trees exposed to carbon limitation
  • Identifying the functions of different carbon storage compounds
  • Drought effects on carbon- and water-relations of plants
  • Tree growth and carbon-storage at cold climates



  • Upscaling from trees to ecosystem processes (biogeochemistry)
  • Tree water-carbon relations (biophysics)
  • Applications for forest management (forestry)