, Volume 119, Issue 6, pp 991-1004

Genotypes of Brassica rapa respond differently to plant-induced variation in air CO2 concentration in growth chambers with standard and enhanced venting

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Abstract

Growth chambers allow measurement of phenotypic differences among genotypes under controlled environment conditions. However, unintended variation in growth chamber air CO2 concentration ([CO2]) may affect the expression of diverse phenotypic traits, and genotypes may differ in their response to variation in [CO2]. We monitored [CO2] and quantified phenotypic responses of 22 Brassica rapa genotypes in growth chambers with either standard or enhanced venting. [CO2] in chambers with standard venting dropped to 280 μmol mol−1 during the period of maximum canopy development, ~80 μmol mol−1 lower than in chambers with enhanced venting. The stable carbon isotope ratio of CO2 in chamber air (δ13Cair) was negatively correlated with [CO2], suggesting that photosynthesis caused observed [CO2] decreases. Significant genotype × chamber-venting interactions were detected for 12 of 20 traits, likely due to differences in the extent to which [CO2] changed in relation to genotypes’ phenology or differential sensitivity of genotypes to low [CO2]. One trait, 13C discrimination (δ13C), was particularly influenced by unaccounted-for fluctuations in δ13Cair and [CO2]. Observed responses to [CO2] suggest that genetic variance components estimated in poorly vented growth chambers may be influenced by the expression of genes involved in CO2 stress responses; genotypic values estimated in these chambers may likewise be misleading such that some mapped quantitative trait loci may regulate responses to CO2 stress rather than a response to the environmental factor of interest. These results underscore the importance of monitoring, and where possible, controlling [CO2].

Communicated by D. Lightfoot.