, Volume 66, Issue 1-2, pp 65-77

Acclimation response of spring wheat in a free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) atmosphere with variable soil nitrogen regimes. 1. Leaf position and phenology determine acclimation response

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We have examined the photosynthetic acclimation of wheat leaves grown at an elevated CO2 concentration, and ample and limiting N supplies, within a field experiment using free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE). To understand how leaf age and developmental stage affected any acclimation response, measurements were made on a vertical profile of leaves every week from tillering until maturity. The response of assimilation (A) to internal CO2 concentration (Ci) was used to estimate the in vivo carboxylation capacity (Vcmax) and maximum rate of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate limited photosynthesis (A sat). The total activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), and leaf content of Rubisco and the Light Harvesting Chlorophyll a/b protein associated with Photosystem II (LHC II), were determined. Elevated CO2 did not alter Vcmax in the flag leaf at either low or high N. In the older shaded leaves lower in the canopy, acclimatory decline in Vcmax and A sat was observed, and was found to correlate with reduced Rubisco activity and content. The dependency of acclimation on N supply was different at each developmental stage. With adequate N supply, acclimation to elevated CO2 was also accompanied by an increased LHC II/Rubisco ratio. At low N supply, contents of Rubisco and LHC II were reduced in all leaves, although an increased LHC II/Rubisco ratio under elevated CO2 was still observed. These results underscore the importance of leaf position, leaf age and crop developmental stage in understanding the acclimation of photosynthesis to elevated CO2 and nutrient stress.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.