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Oecologia

, 167:339 | Cite as

Maintenance of C sinks sustains enhanced C assimilation during long-term exposure to elevated [CO2] in Mojave Desert shrubs

  • Iker Aranjuelo
  • Allison L. Ebbets
  • R. Dave Evans
  • David T. Tissue
  • Salvador Nogués
  • Natasja van Gestel
  • Paxton Payton
  • Volker Ebbert
  • Williams W. Adams III
  • Robert S. Nowak
  • Stanley D. Smith
Physiological ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

During the first few years of elevated atmospheric [CO2] treatment at the Nevada Desert FACE Facility, photosynthetic downregulation was observed in desert shrubs grown under elevated [CO2], especially under relatively wet environmental conditions. Nonetheless, those plants maintained increased A sat (photosynthetic performance at saturating light and treatment [CO2]) under wet conditions, but to a much lesser extent under dry conditions. To determine if plants continued to downregulate during long-term exposure to elevated [CO2], responses of photosynthesis to elevated [CO2] were examined in two dominant Mojave Desert shrubs, the evergreen Larrea tridentata and the drought-deciduous Ambrosia dumosa, during the eighth full growing season of elevated [CO2] treatment at the NDFF. A comprehensive suite of physiological processes were collected. Furthermore, we used C labeling of air to assess carbon allocation and partitioning as measures of C sink activity. Results show that elevated [CO2] enhanced photosynthetic performance and plant water status in Larrea, especially during periods of environmental stress, but not in Ambrosia. δ13C analyses indicate that Larrea under elevated [CO2] allocated a greater proportion of newly assimilated C to C sinks than Ambrosia. Maintenance by Larrea of C sinks during the dry season partially explained the reduced [CO2] effect on leaf carbohydrate content during summer, which in turn lessened carbohydrate build-up and feedback inhibition of photosynthesis. δ13C results also showed that in a year when plant growth reached the highest rates in 5 years, 4% (Larrea) and 7% (Ambrosia) of C in newly emerging organs were remobilized from C that was assimilated and stored for at least 2 years prior to the current study. Thus, after 8 years of continuous exposure to elevated [CO2], both desert perennials maintained their photosynthetic capacities under elevated [CO2]. We conclude that C storage, remobilization, and partitioning influence the responsiveness of these desert shrubs during long-term exposure to elevated [CO2].

Keywords

Ambrosia dumosa C allocation/partitioning Free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) Larrea tridentata Photosynthetic downregulation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Dene Charlet for substantial logistical and data management support. The authors gratefully acknowledge grant support from the Department of Energy’s Terrestrial Carbon Processes Program (DE-FG02-03ER63650, DE-FG02-03ER63651), the NSF Ecosystem Studies Program (DEB-0212812), the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Spanish Education and Science Ministry (BFI-2003-09680, PR2008-0247, CGL2009-13079-CO2-02) and Generalitat de Catalunya (BE-11007). Iker Aranjuelo was the recipient of a Juan de la Cierva Research Grant from the Spanish Education and Science Ministry. We also thank the DOE-NTS Operations Office and Bechtel Nevada for site support. Naomi Clark, David Barker, Beth Newingham, and Amrita de Soyza provided assistance with data collection, Lynn Fenstermaker and Eric Knight with site logistical support, and Jim Raymond with sample preparation and processing. Natasja van Gestel acknowledges a scholarship from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, Lubbock Chapter.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iker Aranjuelo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Allison L. Ebbets
    • 4
    • 5
  • R. Dave Evans
    • 6
  • David T. Tissue
    • 7
    • 8
  • Salvador Nogués
    • 2
  • Natasja van Gestel
    • 7
  • Paxton Payton
    • 7
  • Volker Ebbert
    • 9
  • Williams W. Adams III
    • 9
  • Robert S. Nowak
    • 3
  • Stanley D. Smith
    • 4
  1. 1.Fisiologia Vegetal y AgrobiologiaInstituto de Agrobiotecnología, Universidad Pública de Navarra-CSIC-Gobierno de NavarraMutilva BajaSpain
  2. 2.Unitat de Fisologia Vegetal, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ScienceUniversity of NevadaReno NevadaUSA
  4. 4.School of Life SciencesUniversity of NevadaLas VegasUSA
  5. 5.Stratus Consulting, Inc.BoulderUSA
  6. 6.School of Biological SciencesWashington State UniversityPullman WashingtonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biological SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  8. 8.Hawkesbury Institute for the EnvironmentUniversity of Western SydneyRichmondAustralia
  9. 9.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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