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Oecologia. 2011 Jan;165(1):41-54. doi: 10.1007/s00442-010-1763-5. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Nitrogen deposition limits photosynthetic response to elevated CO2 differentially in a dioecious species.

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Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China.


Sexual dimorphisms of dioecious plants are important in controlling and maintaining sex ratios under changing climate environments. Yet, little is known about sex-specific responses to elevated CO(2) with soil nitrogen (N) deposition. To investigate sex-related physiological and biochemical responses to elevated CO(2) with N deposition, Populus cathayana Rehd. was employed as a model species. The cuttings were subjected to two CO(2) regimes (350 and 700 μmol mol(-1)) with two N levels (0 and 5 g N m(-2) year(-1)). Our results showed that elevated CO(2) and N deposition separately increased the total number of leaves, leaf area (LA), leaf mass, net photosynthetic rate (P(n)), light saturated photosynthetic rate (P(max)), chlorophyll a (Chl a), and chlorophyll a to chlorophyll b ratio (Chl a/b) in both males and females of P. cathayana. However, the effects on LA, leaf mass, P(n), P(max), Chl a and Chl a/b were weakened under the combined treatment of elevated CO(2) and N deposition. Males had higher leaf mass, P(n), P(max), apparent quantum yield (Φ), carboxylation efficiency (CE), Chl a, Chl a/b, leaf N, and root carbon to N ratio (C/N) than did females under elevated CO(2) with N deposition. In contrast to males, females had significantly higher levels of soluble sugars in leaves and greater starch accumulation in roots and stems under the same condition. The results of the present work imply that P. cathayana females are more responsive and suffer from greater negative effects on growth and photosynthetic capacity than do males when grown under elevated CO(2) with soil N deposition.

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