, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 389-400

Effects of nitrogen supply on the acclimation of photosynthesis to elevated CO2

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A common observation in plants grown in elevated CO2 concentration is that the rate of photosynthesis is lower than expected from the dependence of photosynthesis upon CO2 concentration in single leaves of plants grown at present CO2 concentration. Furthermore, it has been suggested that this apparent down regulation of photosynthesis may be larger in leaves of plants at low nitrogen supply than at higher nitrogen supply. However, the available data are rather limited and contradictory. In this paper, particular attention is drawn to the way in which whole plant growth response to N supply constitutes a variable sink strength for carbohydrate usage and how this may affect photosynthesis. The need for further studies of the acclimation of photosynthesis at elevated CO2 in leaves of plants whose N supply has resulted in well-defined growth rate and sink activity is emphasised, and brief consideration is made of how this might be achieved.