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New Phytol. 2007;174(2):367-80.

Respiration as a percentage of daily photosynthesis in whole plants is homeostatic at moderate, but not high, growth temperatures.

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Department of Biology, The University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK.


Here, we investigated the impact of temperature on the carbon economy of two Plantago species from contrasting habitats. The lowland Plantago major and the alpine Plantago euryphylla were grown hydroponically at three constant temperatures: 13, 20 and 27 degrees C. Rates of photosynthetic CO(2) uptake (P) and respiratory CO(2) release (R) in shoots and R in roots were measured at the growth temperature using intact plants. At each growth temperature, air temperatures were changed to establish short-term temperature effects on the ratio of R to P (R/P). In both species, R/P was essentially constant in plants grown at 13 and 20 degrees C. However, R/P was substantially greater in 27 degrees C-grown plants, particularly in P. euryphylla. The increase in R/P at 27 degrees C would have been even greater had biomass allocation to roots not decreased with increasing growth temperature. Short-term increases in air temperature increased R/P in both species, with the effects of air temperature being most pronounced in 13 degrees C-grown plants. We conclude that temperature-mediated changes in biomass allocation play an important role in determining whole-plant R/P values, and, while homeostasis of R/P is achieved across moderate growth temperatures, homeostasis is not maintained when plants are exposed to growth temperatures higher than usually experienced in the natural habitat.

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