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

The Effect of CO2 Enrichment and Irradiance on the Growth, Morphology and Gas Exchange of a C3 (Panicum laxum) and a C4 (Panicum antidotale) Grass

Oula Ghannoum, Susanne von Caemmerer, Edward W. R. Barlow and Jann P. Conroy

Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 24(2) 227 - 237
Published: 1997


The effect of CO2 enrichment and irradiance on the growth and gas exchange of two tropical grasses, Panicum laxum (C3) and Panicum antidotale (C4) were investigated. The two species were grown at either 350 (low) or 700 (high) µL L-1 CO2 concentration, under 40% (low) or 100% (high) of direct sunlight and supplied with ample water and nutrition. Elevated CO2 enhanced plant dry weight at both irradiances in the C3 species (1.41-fold and 1.71-fold increase at low and high light, respectively) but only at high light in the C4 species (1.28 fold increase). CO2 enrichment had no effect on the dry weight of P. antidotale, when stem development was suppressed by growth under artificial lighting. When measured at the CO2 concentration at which they were grown, assimilation rates were similar in the low and high CO2 grown plants, for both species. However, when measurements made at low CO2 were compared, CO2 assimilation rates of the high light, high CO2 grown C3 and C4 species were lower than those of their low CO2 grown counterparts. High CO2 strongly reduced the stomatal conductance of both species, while it affected the Rubisco content (30% decrease) of the high light C3 species only. This work shows clearly that C4 species can respond to CO2 enrichment under favourable growth conditions, and that acclimation to elevated CO2 in pasture grasses does not necessarily involve accumulation of non-structural carbohydrates or reduction of total N or soluble proteins in source leaves.

© CSIRO 1997

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