Northern forest trees are challenged to adapt to changing climate, including global warming and increasing tropospheric ozone (O(3)) concentrations. Both elevated O(3) and temperature can cause significant changes in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions as well as in leaf anatomy that can be related to adaptation or increased stress tolerance, or are signs of damage. Impacts of moderately elevated O(3) (1.3x ambient) and temperature (ambient + 1 degrees C), alone and in combination, on VOC emissions and leaf structure of two genotypes (2.2 and 5.2) of European aspen (Populus tremula L.) were studied in an open-field experiment in summer 2007. The impact of O(3) on measured variables was minor, but elevated temperature significantly increased emissions of total monoterpenes and green leaf volatiles. Genotypic differences in the responses to warming treatment were also observed. alpha-Pinene emission, which has been suggested to protect plants from elevated temperature, increased from genotype 5.2 only. Isoprene emission from genotype 2.2 decreased, whereas genotype 5.2 was able to retain high isoprene emission level also under elevated temperature. Elevated temperature also caused formation of thinner leaves, which was related to thinning of epidermis, palisade and spongy layers as well as reduced area of palisade cells. We consider aspen genotype 5.2 to have better potential for adaptation to increasing temperature because of thicker photosynthetic active palisade layer and higher isoprene and alpha-pinene emission levels compared to genotype 2.2. Our results show that even a moderate elevation in temperature is efficient enough to cause notable changes in VOC emissions and leaf structure of these aspen genotypes, possibly indicating the effort of the saplings to adapt to changing climate.
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