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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Interaction of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment and Irradiance on Plant Growth1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 4, p. 721-725
    Received: Oct 22, 1981

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  1. Nasser Sionit,
  2. H. Hellmers and
  3. B. R. Strain2



Atmospheric carbon dioxide and irradiance are important factors affecting growth and yield of plants. Due to the wide variation in irradiance in natural plant stands and the reportedly increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere, it is essential to study the interacting effects of these factors on the growth and production of crop plants. Growth analysis techniques were used to study the interaction of atmospheric CO2 concentration (350 and 675 µl/l) and photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) (600 and 1200 µEM−2 s−1)on four species (including both seed and root crops) grown in controlled environment chambers of the Duke University Phytotron. The plants were soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.), radish (Raphanus sativus L.), sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.), and corn (Zea mays L.). Total dry matter production increased in all species of plants and at all growth stages with both increased CO2 concentration and PPFD levels, and the maximum dry matter was produced at the highest combined levels of CO2 and PPFD. The dry weight increase varied between the different species and between plant parts within a species. High levels of CO2 and PPFD caused a greater increase in net assimilation rate in the plants during early growth stages than in later stages because the first two or three young, rapidly growing leaves were very efficient photosynthetic organs. A high CO2 or PPFD level resulted in decreasing leaf area ratios with increasing plant age for all the species due to a rapid increase in stem and root growth later in fruit production, and to a decreasing specific leaf area.

Corn, having the C4 pathway of photosynthesis, showed less response to increased CO2 and PPFD than the three C3 species. Increasing the atmospheric CO2 concentration from 350 to 675 µl/liter at low and high PPFD levels produced dry matter increases of 72.7 and 76.4%, respectively, in soybean, and 18.9 and 18.6%, respectively, in corn at 50 days after planting. None of the species tested were light saturated at levels available in the standard fluorescent and incandescent lighting as is shown by the increased growth when higher PPFD levels were obtained with a combination of multivapor and sodium lamps.

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