Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Plant water use efficiency of 17 Australian NAD-ME and NADP-ME C4 grasses at ambient and elevated CO2 partial pressure

Oula Ghannoum, Susanne von Caemmerer and Jann P. Conroy

Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 28(12) 1207 - 1217
Published: 03 December 2001


This study investigates the response to elevated CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) of C4grasses belonging to different biochemical subtypes (NAD–ME and NADP–ME), and taxonomic groups (main Chloroid assemblage, Paniceae and Andropogoneae). Seventeen C4 grasses were grown under well-watered conditions in two glasshouses maintained at an average dailyppCO2 of 42 (ambient) or 68 (elevated) Pa. Elevated pCO2 significantly increased plant water-use efficiency (WUE; dry matter gain per unit water transpired) in 12 out of the 17 C4 grasses, by an average of 33%. In contrast, only five species showed a significant growth stimulation. When all species are considered, the average plant dry mass enhancement at elevated pCO2 was 26%. There were no significant subtype (or taxa) × pCO2 interactions on either WUE or biomass accumulation. When leaf gas exchange was compared at growth pCO2 but similar light and temperature, high pCO2-grown plants had similar CO2 assimilation rates (A) but a 40% lower stomatal conductance than their low pCO2-grown counterparts. There were no signs of either photosynthetic or stomatal acclimation in any of the measured species. We conclude that elevated pCO2 improved WUE primarily by reducing stomatal conductance.

Keywords: C4 photosynthesis, CO2 enrichment, NAD– ME, NADP– ME, water-use efficiency.

© CSIRO 2001

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