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Tree Physiol. 1994 Jul-Sep;14(7_9):707-724.

Interactive effects of elevated CO(2) and soil drought on growth and transpiration efficiency and its determinants in two European forest tree species.

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  • 1Unité d'Ecophysiologie Forestière, Equipe de Bioclimatologie et d'Ecophysiologie, INRA Nancy, F-54280 Champenoux, France.


The responses of growth and transpiration efficiency (W = biomass accumulation/water consumption) to ambient and elevated atmospheric CO(2) concentrations (350 and 700 micro mol mol(-1), respectively) were investigated under optimal nutrient supply in well-watered and in drought conditions in two temperate-forest tree species: Quercus petraea Liebl. and Pinus pinaster Ait. Under well-watered conditions, doubling the CO(2) concentration for one growing season increased biomass growth by 138% in Q. petraea and by 63% in P. pinaster. In contrast, under drought conditions, elevated CO(2) increased biomass growth by only 47% in Q. petraea and had no significant effect on biomass growth in P. pinaster. Transpiration efficiency was higher in Q. petraea than in P. pinaster in all treatments. This difference was linked (i) to lower carbon isotope discrimination (Delta), and thus lower values of the intercellular/ambient CO(2) concentration (c(i)/c(a)) ratio, in Q. petraea, (ii) to lower values of leaf mass ratio (LMR, leaf mass/whole plant mass), which we suggest was positively related to the proportion of daytime carbon fixation lost by respiration (Phi), in Q. petraea, and (iii) to slightly lower C concentrations in Q. petraea than in P. pinaster. The CO(2)-promoted increase in W was higher in Q. petraea (+80%) than in P. pinaster (+50%), and the difference was associated with a more pronounced decrease in Phi in response to elevated CO(2) in Q. petraea than in P. pinaster, which could be linked with the N dilution effect observed in Q. petraea. Because Phi also directly affects growth, the CO(2)-induced enhancement of Phi in Q. petraea is a crucial determinant of the growth stimulation observed in this species. Leaf gas exchange regulation was not the only factor involved in the responses of growth and W to elevated CO(2) and drought, other physiological processes that have crucial roles include carbon and N allocation and respiration.

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