, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 215–229 | Cite as

Genetic variation among pines and spruces in assimilation efficiencies and photosynthetic regulation under elevated CO2

  • John E. MajorEmail author
  • Alex Mosseler
  • John W. Malcolm
Original Article


Key message

After 3 years of elevated CO2 treatments, spruce P n regulation from aCO2 to eCO2 was strongly related to total dry mass change (%), whereas pines displayed the same trend, but the relationship was not statistically significant.


Assimilation to internal CO2 (AC i ) response curve parameters were grown and quantified under ambient (aCO2) and elevated (eCO2) CO2 treatments for two commercially important tree genera, Pinus and Picea spp. The species include Pinus strobus (WP), P. resinosa (RP), P. banksiana (JP), P. rigida (PP), Picea glauca (WS), P. rubens (RS), P. mariana (BS), and P. abies (NS). Seedlings were 4 years old and dosed for 3 years at the time of measurements. Overall, pines had greater maximum rates of carboxylation (V cmax) and maximum assimilation (A max) values than spruces, and there was a significant downregulation in V cmax and A max for both genera in eCO2, but more so for the spruces. For the maximum rate of electron transport (J max) and the rate of triose phosphate utilization (TPU), there was no significant genus effect, but there was a significant downregulation in eCO2. For these four traits, all spruces downregulated, whereas each pine species responded quite differently. White pine downregulated the most, followed by RP; no change for JP, and PP traits increased under eCO2. At an intermediate CO2 level, net photosynthesis @570 ppm CO2 (P n570) was 13.0% greater for pines and 9.0% lower for spruces under eCO2 compared with aCO2. Comparing responses under eCO2 to aCO2, P n570 was equal for WS but lower for the other spruces; however, WP declined, RP showed no difference, JP had greater P n570, and PP had substantially greater P n570. For pines, there appears to be a consistent enhanced sink effect on P n across all species. Corresponding P n570 change from aCO2 to eCO2 across spruce species showed a strong positive and statistically significant correlation to biomass stimulation that supports the theory of sink regulation of P n .


Biochemical efficiency Elevated CO2 Fitness Net photosynthesis Pines Spruces 



We gratefully acknowledge useful comments received from Dr. Guy Larocque. In addition, the biological and technical skills of Debby Barsi, Moira Campbell, and Stephanie West are thankfully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Crown Copyright  2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Major
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alex Mosseler
    • 1
  • John W. Malcolm
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Resources CanadaCanadian Forest Service-Atlantic Forestry CentreFrederictonCanada

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