Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 175–184 | Cite as

Photosynthetic inhibition after long-term exposure to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide

  • Evan H. Delucia
  • Thomas W. Sasek
  • Boyd R. Strain
Regular Paper


The effect of long-term exposure to elevated levels of CO2 on biomass partitioning, net photosynthesis and starch metabolism was examined in cotton. Plants were grown under controlled conditions at 350, 675 and 1000 μl l-1 CO2. Plants grown at 675 and 1000 μl l-1 had 72% and 115% more dry weight respectively than plants grown at 350 μl l-1. Increases in weight were partially due to corresponding increases in leaf starch. CO2 enrichment also caused a decrease in chlorophyll concentration and a change in the chlorophyll a/b ratio. High CO2 grown plants had lower photosynthetic capacity than 350 μl l-1 grown plants when measured at each CO2 concentration. Reduced photosynthetic rates were correlated with high internal (non-stomatal) resistances and higher starch levels. It is suggested that carbohydrate accumulation causes a decline in photosynthesis by feedback inhibition and/or physical damage at the chloroplast level.

Key words

CO2-enrichment conductance cotton photosynthesis starch accumulation 



internal CO2 concentration






honestly significant difference (procedure)




inorganic phosphate


standard error of mean


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Arnon DI (1949) Copper enzymes in isolated chloroplasts. Polyphenol-oxidase in Beta vulgaris. Plant Physiol 24: 1–15Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Azcon-Bieto J (1983) Inhibition of photosynthesis by carbohydrates in wheat leaves. Plant Physiol 73: 681–686Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cave G, Tolley LC and Strain BR (1981) Effect of carbon dioxide enrichment on chlorophyll content, starch content and starch grain structure in Trifolium subterraneum leaves. Physiol Plant 51: 171–174Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chang CW (1975) Carbon dioxide and senescence in cotton plants. Plant Physiol 55: 515–519Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Downs RJ and Hellmers H (1978) Controlled climate and plant research. World Meteorological Organization, Technical Note #148. GenevaGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ebell LF (1969) Specific total starch determinations in conifer tissues with glucose oxidase. Phytochemistry 8: 25–36Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Farquhar GD and Sharkey TD (1982) Stomatal conductance and photosynthesis. Ann Rev Plant Physiol 33: 317–45Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Haissig BE and Dickson RE (1979) Starch measurement in plant tissue using enzymatic hydrolysis. Physiol Plant 47: 151–157Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Herold A (1980) Regulation of photosynthesis by sink activity — the missing link. New Phytol. 86: 131–144Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hellmers H and Giles LJ (1979) Carbon dioxide: critic I. In Tibbitts TW and Kozlowski TT (eds) Controlled Environment Guidelines for Plant Research. Academic Press, New York, pp. 229–234Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hiscox JD and Israelstam GF (1979) A method for the extraction of chlorophyll from leaf tissue without maceration. Can J Bot 57: 1332–1334Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kimball BA (1983) Carbon Dioxide and Agricultural Yield: An Assemblage and Analysis of 770 Prior Observations. WCL Report. US Water Conservation Laboratory, Phoenix, ArizonaGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kramer PJ (1981) Carbon dioxide concentration, photosynthesis and dry matter production. BioScience 31: 29–33Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kramer PJ, Hellmers H and Downs RJ (1970) SEPEL: New phytotrons for environmental research. BioScience 20: 1201–1208Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Madsen E (1968) Effect of CO2-concentration on accumulation of starch and sugar in tomato leaves. Physiol Plant 21: 168–175Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Madsen E (1975) Effect of CO2-enrichment on growth, development, fruit production and fruit quality in tomato from a physiological point of view. In deBilderling N and Chouard P (eds) Phytotrons and Horticultural Research. Gauthier-Villars, ParisGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mauney JR, Fry KE and Guinn G (1978) Relationship of photosynthetic rate to growth and fruiting of cotton, soybean, sorghum and sunflower. Crop Sci 18: 259–263Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mauney JR, Guinn G, Fry KE and Hesketh JD (1979) Correlation of photosynthetic carbon dioxide uptake and carbohydrate accumulation in cotton, soybean, sunflower and sorghum. Photosynthetica 13: 260–266Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Morison JIL and Gifford RM (1984) Ethylene contamination of CO2 cylinders. Plant Physiol 75: 275–277Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Nafziger ED and Koller HR (1976) Influence of leaf starch concentration on CO2 assimilation in soybean. Plant Physiol 57: 560–563Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Neales TF and Incoll ID (1968) The control of leaf photosynthesis rate by the level of assimilate concentration in the leaf: a review of the hypothesis. Bot Rev 34: 107–125Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nobel PS (1983) Biophysical Plant Physiology and Ecology. W.H. Freeman and Co., NY 608 pGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Pearcy RO and Bjorkman O (1983) Physiological effects. In Lemon ER (ed) CO2 and Plants: The Response of Plants to Rising Levels of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. AAAS Selected Symposium #84. Westview Press, Inc. Boulder, 280 pGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Raper DC and Peedin GF (1978) Photosynthetic rate during steady-state growth as influenced by carbon dioxide concentration. Bot Gaz 139: 147–149Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Raschke K (1975) Stomatal action. Ann Rev Plant Physiol 26: 309–340Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Raschke K (1979) Movements of stomata. Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology 7: 383–441Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Sestak Z, Catsky J and Jarvis PG (es) (1971) Plant Photosynthetic Production: A Manual of Methods. Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague, 818 pGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sharkey TD and Badger MR (1984) Factors limiting photosynthesis as determined from gas exchange characteristics and metabolite pool sizes. In Sybesma C (ed) Advances in Photosynthesis Research Vol. 7. Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague/Boston/Lancaster, pp. 325–328.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Strain BR and Bazzaz FA (1983) Terrestrial plant communities. In Lemon ER (ed) CO2 and Plants: The Response of Plants to Rising Levels of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. AAAS Selected Symposium #84. Westview Press, Inc. Boulder, 280 pGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Thomas JF, Raper CDJr, Anderson CE and Downs RJ (1975) Growth of young tobacco plants as affected by carbon dioxide and nutrient variables. Agron J 67: 685–689Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    von Caemmerer S and Farquhar GD (1981) Some relationships between the biochemistry of photosynthesis and the gas exchange of leaves. Planta 153: 376–387Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    von Caemmerer S and Farquhar GD (1984) Effects of partial defoliation, changes in irradiance during growth, short-term water stress and growth at enhanced p(CO2) on photosynthetic capacity of leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris. Planta 160: 320–329Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Wulff RD and Strain BR (1981) Effects of CO2 enrichment on growth and photosynthesis in Desmodium paniculatum. Can J Bot 60: 1084–1091Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evan H. Delucia
    • 1
  • Thomas W. Sasek
    • 1
  • Boyd R. Strain
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyDuke UnivrsityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations