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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 22, 2013

Pyrolysis gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) to identify compression wood in Pinus radiata saplings

  • Maree Brennan , J. Paul McLean , Andreas Klingberg , Clemens Altaner and Philip J. Harris EMAIL logo
From the journal Holzforschung


The potential of pyrolysis followed by gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) was investigated for identifying compression wood (CW) in saplings of radiata pine (Pinus radiata) by examining samples of CW and opposite wood (OW). Phenolic compounds and anhydrosugars were identified among the pyrolysis products that provided information about the cell-wall polymers. Sample preparation, such as coarse-milling, fine-milling, and fine-milling followed by calcium-chloride treatment was also investigated. Fine-milling typically decreased the total yield of phenolic compounds compared with coarse-milling. Fine-milling followed by calcium-chloride washing significantly increased the proportions of pyrolysis products from polysaccharides, specifically from (1→4)-β-D-galactans that were of interest in distinguishing CW from OW. Six pyrolysis products were identified that were unique to the CW samples examined, including derivatives of (1→4)-β-D-galactans and H-units of lignin. Other pyrolysis products were identified that had significantly different proportions between the two wood types, and sometimes among samples of the same wood type.

Corresponding author: Philip J. Harris, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand, Phone: +64-9-373-7599 ext. 88366, Fax: +64-9-373-7417, e-mail:
aPresent address: Crop and Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College, King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, Scotland EH9 3JG.bPresent address: Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland EH25 9SY.cPresent address: Department of Chemistry, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 6, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.dPresent address: New Zealand School of Forestry, The University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.


We thank our colleagues at the University of Canterbury, Luis Apiolaza, Shakti Chauhan and John Walker, for providing the wood samples, and the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology (PROJ-12401-PPS-UOC) for funding. We thank Dr. Jürgen Odermatt at the Center of Wood Science and Technology, University of Hamburg, for the use of instruments in his laboratory.


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Received: 2013-6-20
Accepted: 2013-10-25
Published Online: 2013-11-22
Published in Print: 2014-7-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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