Journal Article

Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Does Not Reduce Leaf Longevity or Alter Accumulation of Carbon Reserves in the Woodland Spring Ephemeral <i>Erythronium americanum</i>

Sylvain Gutjahr and Line Lapointe

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 5, pages 835-843
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn161
Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Does Not Reduce Leaf Longevity or Alter Accumulation of Carbon Reserves in the Woodland Spring Ephemeral Erythronium americanum

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Background and Aims

Woodland spring ephemerals exhibit a relatively short epigeous growth period prior to canopy closure. However, it has been suggested that leaf senescence is induced by a reduction in the carbohydrate sink demand, rather than by changes in light availability. To ascertain whether a potentially higher net carbon (C) assimilation rate could shorten leaf lifespan due to an accelerated rate of storage, Erythronium americanum plants were grown under ambient (400 ppm) and elevated (1100 ppm) CO2 concentrations.

Methods

During this growth-chamber experiment, plant biomass, bulb starch concentration and cell size, leaf phenology, gas exchange rates and nutrient concentrations were monitored.

Key Results

Plants grown at 1100 ppm CO2 had greater net C assimilation rates than those grown at 400 ppm CO2. However, plant size, final bulb mass, bulb filling rate and timing of leaf senescence did not differ.

Conclusions Erythronium americanum

fixed more C under elevated than under ambient CO2 conditions, but produced plants of similar size. The similar bulb growth rates under both CO2 concentrations suggest that the bulb filling rate is dependant on bulb cell elongation rate, rather than on C availability. Elevated CO2 stimulated leaf and bulb respiratory rates; this might reduce feed-back inhibition of photosynthesis and avoid inducing premature leaf senescence.

Keywords: Source–sink relations; assimilation rates; growth rates; CO2 enrichment; respiration; spring ephemeral; leaf senescence; bulbous plant; carbohydrate storage; Erythronium americanum

Journal Article.  5315 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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