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Tree Physiol. 2001 Nov;21(17):1279-87.

Effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentration and temperature on needle growth, respiration and carbohydrate status in field-grown Scots pines during the needle expansion period.

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University of Joensuu, Faculty of Forestry, P.O. Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland.


We determined effects of long-term elevation of carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) and temperature on growth, respiration and carbohydrate concentration in needles of field-grown Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees during the needle expansion period. Sixteen 20-year-old Scots pine trees were individually enclosed in closed-top, environmentally controlled chambers for 4 years in one of four environments: ambient conditions (CON); elevated [CO2] (EC); elevated temperature (ET); and a combination of both (EC + ET). Needle growth, carbohydrate concentration and dark respiration were measured at 3-day intervals throughout the needle expansion period. Dark respiration was partitioned into growth and maintenance components by regressing specific respiration rate against specific growth rate. In all treatments, growth, carbohydrate concentration and daily dark respiration rates of needles followed a similar seasonal pattern throughout the needle expansion period. Treatments EC, ET and EC + ET increased individual needle area and dry weight compared with the CON treatment. Carbohydrate concentrations in needles were increased by EC, but reduced by ET and EC + ET. Daily respiration rates increased slightly in the early stage of needle expansion and decreased gradually in the late stage when needles were exposed to EC, but increased consistently throughout the growing period when needles were exposed to ET or EC + ET. Partitioning of respiration into its two functional components showed that the growth respiration coefficient was unaffected by the treatments, whereas maintenance respiration was reduced by EC but increased by ET and EC + ET. Maintenance respiration was more sensitive to elevated temperature than growth respiration. We conclude that the difference in respiration rates between expanding and expanded needles should be taken into account when estimating the respiratory responses of needles to elevated [CO2] and temperature.

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