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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Photosynthesis, Productivity and Yield of Maize Are Not Affected by Open-Air Elevation of Co2 Concentration in the Absence of Drought

item Leakey, Andrew D - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
item Uribelarrea, Martin - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
item Ainsworth, Elizabeth
item Rogers, Alistair - BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LAB
item Ort, Donald

Submitted to: American Society of Plant Biologists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2006
Publication Date: August 5, 2006
Citation: Leakey, A.B., Uribelarrea, M., Ainsworth, E.A., Naidu, S.L., Rogers, A., Ort, D.R., Long, S.P. 2006. Photosynthesis, productivity and yield of maize are not affected by open-air elevation of CO2 concentration in the absence of drought [abstract]. American Society of Plant Biologists. Paper No. P01007.

Technical Abstract: While increasing temperatures and altered soil moisture arising from climate change in the next 50 years are projected to decrease yield of food crops, elevated CO2 concentration [CO2] is predicted to enhance yield and offset these detrimental factors. However, C4 photosynthesis is usually saturated at current [CO2], and theoretically should not be stimulated under elevated [CO2]. Nevertheless, some controlled environment studies have reported direct stimulation of C4 photosynthesis and productivity, as well as physiological acclimation, under elevated [CO2]. To test if these effects occur in the open-air and within the cornbelt, Zea mays (maize) was grown in ambient [CO2] (376 <mu>mol mol-1) and elevated [CO2] (550 <mu>mol mol-1) using Free-Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) technology. The 2004 season had ideal growing conditions in which the crop did not experience water stress. In the absence of water stress, growth at elevated [CO2] did not stimulate photosynthesis, biomass or yield. Nor was there any CO2 effect on the activity of key photosynthetic enzymes, or metabolic markers of carbon and nitrogen status. Stomatal conductance was lower (-34%) and soil moisture was higher (up to 31%), consistent with reduced crop water use. The results provide unique field evidence that photosynthesis and production of maize may be unaffected by rising [CO2] in the absence of drought. This suggests that rising [CO2] may not provide the full dividend to North American maize production anticipated in projections of future global food supply.

Last Modified: 4/19/2015
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