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

Photosynthetic Responses of Thirteen Pasture Species to Elevated CO2 and Temperature

DH Greer, WA Laing and BD Campbell

Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 22(5) 713 - 722
Published: 1995


Thirteen common pasture species, (eleven C3 and two C4), were grown in controlled environments at 12/7, 18/13 and 28/23ºC and at 350 and 700 ppm CO2 to evaluate the effects of elevated CO2 on their photosynthetic responses. Photosynthesis was measured at the growth temperatures and at both 350 and 700 ppm CO2. In C3 species, short-term (within minutes) increases in CO2 had the greatest effect on photosynthesis, with an average of 50-60% higher rates in plants exposed to 700 ppm CO2 at each temperature. However, there was a continuum of response between the C3 species whereas C4 species were unaffected by short-term changes in CO2. There was also a long-term (4-8 weeks) response to high CO2, with an average of about 40-50% higher rates of photosynthesis, with some response by C4 species. Both short- and long-term responses were negatively correlated with the photosynthetic rate of each species at 350 ppm CO2 and all species were less efficient at converting photosynthate to dry matter at elevated CO2. These data show clearly that photosynthesis of these cool temperate pasture species can respond to elevated CO2, especially at low temperatures. This will have consequences for predicting the potential effects of climate change, accompanied by rising CO2, on pasture ecosystems.

© CSIRO 1995

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