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Plant Physiol. 2000 Sep;124(1):183-90.

Long-term growth of Ginkgo with CO(2) enrichment increases leaf ice nucleation temperatures and limits recovery of the photosynthetic system from freezing.

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  • 1Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.


The importance of subzero temperature interactions with elevated CO(2) on plant carbon metabolism has received rather little attention, despite their likely role in influencing future vegetation productivity and dynamics. Here we focused on the critical issues of CO(2)-enrichment effects on leaf-freezing temperatures, subsequent membrane damage, and recovery of the photosynthetic system. We show that growth in elevated CO(2) (70 Pa) results in a substantial and significant (P<0.01) increase (up to 4 degrees C) in the ice nucleation temperature of leaves of Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), which was observed consistently throughout the 1999 growing season relative to their ambient CO(2) (35 Pa) counterparts. We suggest that increased sensitivity of leaves to ice damage after growth in elevated CO(2) provides an explanation for increased photoinhibition observed in the field early and late in the growing season when low nighttime temperatures are experienced. This new mechanism is proposed in addition to the earlier postulated explanation for this phenomenon involving a reduction in the rate of triose-P utilization owing to a decrease in the rate of carbohydrate export from the leaf.

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