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Plant Cell Environ. 2007 Mar;30(3):258-270. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2007.01641.x.

The response of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance to rising [CO2]: mechanisms and environmental interactions.

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USDA/ARS Photosynthesis Research Unit and Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 147 ERML, 1201 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801,Department of Environmental Sciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973-5000 andDepartment of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana IL 61801, USA.


This review summarizes current understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the response of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance to elevated carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]), and examines how downstream processes and environmental constraints modulate these two fundamental responses. The results from free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments were summarized via meta-analysis to quantify the mean responses of stomatal and photosynthetic parameters to elevated [CO2]. Elevation of [CO2] in FACE experiments reduced stomatal conductance by 22%, yet, this reduction was not associated with a similar change in stomatal density. Elevated [CO2] stimulated light-saturated photosynthesis (Asat) in C3 plants grown in FACE by an average of 31%. However, the magnitude of the increase in Asat varied with functional group and environment. Functional groups with ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco)-limited photosynthesis at elevated [CO2] had greater potential for increases in Asat than those where photosynthesis became ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RubP)-limited at elevated [CO2]. Both nitrogen supply and sink capacity modulated the response of photosynthesis to elevated [CO2] through their impact on the acclimation of carboxylation capacity. Increased understanding of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms by which plants respond to elevated [CO2], and the feedback of environmental factors upon them, will improve our ability to predict ecosystem responses to rising [CO2] and increase our potential to adapt crops and managed ecosystems to future atmospheric [CO2].

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