, Volume 177, Issue 3, pp 312–320 | Cite as

Leaf and canopy responses of Lolium perenne to long-term elevated atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentration

  • I. Nijs
  • I. Impens
  • T. Behaeghe


The relationship between leaf photosynthetic capacity (pn, max), net canopy CO2- and H2O-exchange rate (NCER and Et, respectively) and canopy dry-matter production was examined in Lollium perenne L. cv. Vigor in ambient (363±30 μl· l-1) and elevated (631±43 μl·l-1) CO2 concentrations. An open system for continuous and simultaneous regulation of atmospheric CO2 concentration and NCER and Et measurement was designed and used over an entire growth cycle to calculate a carbon and a water balance. While NCERmax of full-grown canopies was 49% higher at elevated CO2 level, stimulation of pn, max was only 46% (in spite of a 50% rise in one-sided stomatal resistance for water-vapour diffusion), clearly indicating the effect of a higher leaf-area index under high CO2 (approx. 10% in one growing period examined). A larger amount of CO2-deficient leaves resulted in higher canopy dark-respiration rates and higher canopy light compensation points. The structural component of the high-CO2 effect was therefore a disadvantage at low irradiance, but a far greater benefit at high irradiance. Higher canopy darkrespiration rates under elevated CO2 level and low irradiance during the growing period are the primary causes for the increase in dry-matter production (19%) being much lower than expected merely based on the NCERmax difference. While total water use was the same under high and low CO2 levels, water-use efficiency increased 25% on the canopy level and 87% on a leaf basis. In the course of canopy development, allocation towards the root system became greater, while stimulation of shoot dry-matter accumulation was inversely affected. Over an entire growing season the root/shoot production ratio was 22% higher under high CO2 concentration.

Key words

Carbon dioxide and water balance Carbon dioxide concentration (elevated) Dry matter production Evapotranspiration Lolium (high-CO2 response) Photosynthesis (leaf, canopy) Water use efficiency 

Abbreviations and symbols


ambient CO2, 363±30 μl·l-1


high CO2, 631±43 μl·l-1


atmospheric CO2 level


CO2 concentration in the intracellular spaces of the leaf


canopy evapotranspiration


canopy light compensation point


canopy CO2-exchange rate


leaf photosynthetic rate


photosynthetic photon flux density


leaf boundary-layer resistance


canopy dark-respiration rate


stomatal resistance


water use efficiency


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Nijs
    • 1
  • I. Impens
    • 1
  • T. Behaeghe
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of GhentGentBelgium

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