, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 383-389

Growth and photosynthetic response of nine tropical species with long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide

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Seedlings of nine tropical species varying in growth and carbon metabolism were exposed to twice the current atmospheric level of CO2 for a 3 month period on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. A doubling of the CO2 concentration resulted in increases in photosynthesis and greater water use efficiency (WUE) for all species possessing C3 metabolism, when compared to the ambient condition. No desensitization of photosynthesis to increased CO2 was observed during the 3 month period. Significant increases in total plant dry weight were also noted for 4 out of the 5 C3 species tested and in one CAM species, Aechmea magdalenae at high CO2. In contrast, no significant increases in either photosynthesis or total plant dry weight were noted for the C4 grass, Paspallum conjugatum. Increases in the apparent quantum efficiency (AQE) for all C3 species suggest that elevated CO2 may increase photosynthetic rate relative to ambient CO2 over a wide range of light conditions. The response of CO2 assimilation to internal Ci suggested a reduction in either the RuBP and/or Pi regeneration limitation with long term exposure to elevated CO2. This experiment suggests that: (1) a global rise in CO2 may have significant effects on photosynthesis and productivity in a wide variety of tropical species, and (2) increases in productivity and photosynthesis may be related to physiological adaptation(s) to increased CO2.