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Theor Appl Genet. 2009 Oct;119(6):991-1004. doi: 10.1007/s00122-009-1103-5. Epub 2009 Jul 15.

Genotypes of Brassica rapa respond differently to plant-induced variation in air CO2 concentration in growth chambers with standard and enhanced venting.

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Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


Growth chambers allow measurement of phenotypic differences among genotypes under controlled environment conditions. However, unintended variation in growth chamber air CO2 concentration ([CO2]) may affect the expression of diverse phenotypic traits, and genotypes may differ in their response to variation in [CO2]. We monitored [CO2] and quantified phenotypic responses of 22 Brassica rapa genotypes in growth chambers with either standard or enhanced venting. [CO2] in chambers with standard venting dropped to 280 micromol mol(-1) during the period of maximum canopy development, approximately 80 micromol mol(-1) lower than in chambers with enhanced venting. The stable carbon isotope ratio of CO2 in chamber air (delta13C(air)) was negatively correlated with [CO2], suggesting that photosynthesis caused observed [CO2] decreases. Significant genotype x chamber-venting interactions were detected for 12 of 20 traits, likely due to differences in the extent to which [CO2] changed in relation to genotypes' phenology or differential sensitivity of genotypes to low [CO2]. One trait, 13C discrimination (delta13C), was particularly influenced by unaccounted-for fluctuations in delta13C(air) and [CO2]. Observed responses to [CO2] suggest that genetic variance components estimated in poorly vented growth chambers may be influenced by the expression of genes involved in CO2 stress responses; genotypic values estimated in these chambers may likewise be misleading such that some mapped quantitative trait loci may regulate responses to CO2 stress rather than a response to the environmental factor of interest. These results underscore the importance of monitoring, and where possible, controlling [CO2].

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