Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/13/2012
Publication Date: 7/15/2012
Citation: Barnaby, J.Y., Ziska, L.H. 2012. Plant response to elevated C02. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023718. Interpretive Summary: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been continuously rising since the industrial revolution due to various human activities. There is a critical need to understand how a rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is likely to impact agriculture and forestry. In this review, we summarize an up-to-date view of plant responses to elevated carbon dioxide at the molecular, single leaf, whole plant, plant community and evolutionary levels. This review can serve as a tentative guide for additional inquiry regarding the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on plant biology. Information in this review should be of interest to students, researchers and government policy makers interested in climate change and agriculture.
Technical Abstract: Carbon dioxide (CO2) has two unique properties; physically it absorbs in the infrared (heat) portion of the spectrum, and plays a role in maintaining global surface temperatures; secondly, it is the source of carbon for plant photosynthesis and growth. Recent, rapid anthropogenic increases in CO2 have been well-characterized with respect to climatic change whereas less recognized is that increase in CO2 will also impact how plants supply food, energy and carbon to all living things. At present, numerous experiments have documented the response of single leaves or whole plants to elevated CO2. However, it is difficult to scale up or integrate these observations to plant biology in toto. To that end, a greater emphasis on multiple factor experiments for managed and unmanaged systems, in combination with simulative vegetative modelling, could increase our predictive capabilities regarding the impact of elevated CO2 on plant communities (e.g. agriculture, forestry) of human interest.