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J Exp Bot. 2002 Apr;53(369):737-46.

Impact of elevated CO(2) and O(3) on gas exchange parameters and epidermal characteristics in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.).

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School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK.


Potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Bintje) were grown in open-top chambers (OTCs) under three CO(2) levels (ambient and 24 h d(-1) seasonal mean concentrations of 550 and 680 micromol mol(-1)) and two O(3) levels (ambient and a seasonal mean 8 h d(-1) concentration of 50 nmol mol(-1)). The objectives were to determine the effects of season-long exposure to these key climate change gases on gas exchange, leaf thickness and epidermal characteristics. The experimental design also provided an ideal opportunity to examine within-leaf variation in epidermal characteristics at the whole-leaf level. Stomatal and epidermal cell density and stomatal index were measured at specific locations on the youngest fully expanded leaf (centre of lamina, mid-way between tip and base) and representative whole leaves from each treatment. Effects on leaf conductance, assimilation rate and instantaneous transpiration efficiency were determined by infrared gas analysis, while anatomical characteristics were examined using a combination of leaf impressions and thin sections. Exposure to elevated CO(2) or O(3) generally increased leaf thickness, leaf area, stomatal density, and assimilation rate, but reduced leaf conductance. The irregular stomatal distribution within leaves resulted from a combination of uneven differentiation and expansion of the epidermal cells. The results are discussed with reference to sampling protocols and the need to account for within-leaf variation when examining the impact of climate change or other environmental factors on epidermal characteristics.

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