, Volume 104-105, Issue 1, pp 47-62

Plant water relations and the effects of elevated CO2: a review and suggestions for future research

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Increased ambient carbon dioxide (CO2) has been found to ameliorate water stress in the majority of species studied. The results of many studies indicate that lower evaporative flux density is associated with high CO2-induced stomatal closure. As a result of decreases in evaporative flux density and increases in net photosynthesis, also found to occur in high CO2 environments, plants have often been shown to maintain higher water use efficiencies when grown at high CO2 than when grown in normal, ambient air. Plants grown at high CO2 have also been found to maintain higher total water potentials, to increase biomass production, have larger root-to-shoot ratios, and to be generally more drought resistant (through avoidance mechanisms) than those grown at ambient CO2 levels. High CO2-induced changes in plant structure (i.e., vessel or tracheid anatomy, leaf specific conductivity) may be associated with changes in vulnerability to xylem cavitation or in environmental conditions in which runaway embolism is likely to occur. Further study is needed to resolve these important issues. Methodology and other CO2 effects on plant water relations are discussed.