Rapid phytochemical analysis of birch (Betula) and poplar (Populus) foliage by near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy

Kennedy F. Rubert-Nason, Liza M. Holeski, John J. Couture, Adam Gusse, Daniel J. Undersander, Richard L. Lindroth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Poplar (Populus) and birch (Betula) species are widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, where they are foundation species in forest ecosystems and serve as important sources of pulpwood. The ecology of these species is strongly linked to their foliar chemistry, creating demand for a rapid, inexpensive method to analyze phytochemistry. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of using near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) as an inexpensive, high-throughput tool for determining primary (e.g., nitrogen, sugars, starch) and secondary (e.g., tannins, phenolic glycosides) foliar chemistry of Populus and Betula species, and identifies conditions necessary for obtaining reliable quantitative data. We developed calibrations with high predictive power (residual predictive deviations ≤ 7.4) by relating phytochemical concentrations determined with classical analytical methods (e.g., spectrophotometric assays, liquid chromatography) to NIR spectra, using modified partial least squares regression. We determine that NIRS, although less sensitive and precise than classical methods for some compounds, provides useful predictions in a much faster, less expensive manner than do classical methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1344
Number of pages12
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbohydrate
  • NIRS
  • Nitrogen
  • Phenolic glycoside
  • Populus
  • Tannin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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