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New Phytol. 2007;173(3):537-49.

Photosynthetic stimulation under long-term CO2 enrichment and fertilization is sustained across a closed Populus canopy profile (EUROFACE).

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University of Antwerp, Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Department of Biology, Campus Drie Eiken, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium.


The long-term response of leaf photosynthesis to rising CO2 concentrations [CO2] depends on biochemical and morphological feedbacks. Additionally, responses to elevated [CO2] might depend on the nutrient availability and the light environment, affecting the net carbon uptake of a forest stand. After 6 yr of exposure to free-air CO2 enrichment (EUROFACE) during two rotation cycles (with fertilization during the second cycle), profiles of light, leaf characteristics and photosynthetic parameters were measured in the closed canopy of a poplar (Populus) short-rotation coppice. Net photosynthetic rate (A(growth)) was 49% higher in poplars grown in elevated [CO2], independently of the canopy position. Jmax significantly increased (15%), whereas leaf carboxylation capacity (Vcmax), leaf nitrogen (N(a)) and chlorophyll (Chl(a)) were unaffected in elevated [CO2]. Leaf mass per unit area (LMA) increased in the upper canopy. Fertilization created more leaves in the top of the crown. These results suggest that the photosynthetic stimulation by elevated [CO2] in a closed-canopy poplar coppice might be sustained in the long term. The absence of any down-regulation, given a sufficient sink capacity and nutrient availability, provides more carbon for growth and storage in this bioenergy plantation.

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