Development of a sampling protocol for collecting leaf surface material for multiphase chemistry studies

09 February 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Plant leaves and water drops residing on them interact with atmospheric oxidants, impacting the deposition and emission of trace gases and mediating leaf damage from air pollution. Characterizing the chemical composition and reactivity of the water-soluble material on leaf surfaces is thus essential for improving our understanding of atmosphere-biosphere interactions. However, the limited knowledge of sources and nature of these chemicals challenges sampling decisions. This work investigates how sampling variables and environmental factors impact the quantity and composition of water-soluble material sampled from wet leaves and proposes a flexible protocol for its collection. The ratio of solvent volume-to-leaf area, the solvent-to-leaf contact time, and environmental parameters – including the occurrence of rain, plant location and its metabolism – drive solute concentration in leaf soaks. Despite minor variations, UV-Vis absorption spectra of leaf soaks are comparable to authentic raindrops collected from the same tree and share features with microbial dissolved organic matter – including overall low aromaticity, low chromophore content, and low average molecular weight. In addition to guiding the development of a sampling protocol, our data corroborate recent hypotheses on the amount, origin, nature, and reactivity of water-soluble organics on wet leaves, providing new directions of research into this highly interdisciplinary topic.


plant leaves
leaf wetness
atmospheric oxidants
atmosphere-biosphere interactions
multiphase leaf surface chemistry
environmental sampling
leaf cuticle
ozone dry deposition

Supplementary materials

Supplementary Material
Sampling locations and meteorological data; Collection and analysis of authentic raindrops; Supplementary methods; Detailed description of all experiments mentioned in the main text, including supplementary tables, figures, and further analyses of data.


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Comment number 1, Florian Reyzek: Mar 16, 2024, 16:53

Thank you for your valuable work. I appreciate the initiative to develop a standard protocol for extracting surface samples from leaves. While reading through your methodology, I found a similarity to the extraction method we described in our own paper ( Given the similarities in our approaches, and considering how it could provide a broader perspective on standard protocols within our field, it might be worthwhile to reference our study in your paper. Thanks again for your contribution to the field. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further.