3 Biotech

, 8:267 | Cite as

Adaptive physiological response, carbon partitioning, and biomass production of Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal grown under elevated CO2 regimes

  • Rupali Sharma
  • Hukum Singh
  • Monica Kaushik
  • Raman Nautiyal
  • Ombir Singh
Original Article


Winter cherry or Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an important medicinal plant used in traditional and herbal medicine system. Yet, there is no information available on response of this plant to changing climatic conditions particularly elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to examine the effect of elevated CO2 concentrations (ECs) on Withania somnifera. The variations in traits of physiological adaptation, net primary productivity, carbon partitioning, morphology, and biomass in response to elevated CO2 concentrations (ambient, 600 and 800 µmol mol−1) during one growth cycle were investigated within the open top chamber (OTC) facility in the foothill of the Himalayas, Dehardun, India. ECs significantly increased photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, water use efficiency, soil respiration, net primary productivity and the carbon content of plant tissues (leaf, stem, and root), and soil carbon. Furthermore, ECs significantly enhanced biomass production (root and shoot), although declined night leaf respiration. Overall, it was summarized that photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, water use efficiency, leaf, and soil carbon and biomass increased under ECs rendering the physiological adaptation to the plant. Increased net primary productivity might facilitate mitigation effects by sequestering elevated levels of carbon dioxide. We advocate further studies to investigate the effects of ECs on the accumulation of secondary metabolites and health-promoting substances of this as well as other medicinal plants.


Elevated CO2 Physiological adaptations Net primary productivity Carbon partitioning Biomass production Leaf and soil respiration Medicinal plants Withania somnifera 



The authors are very thankful to the Director, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun for providing facility to carry out the proposed study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest in the publication.


  1. Adair EC, Reich PB, Tsost JJ, Hobbie SE (2011) Elevated CO2 stimulates grassland soil respiration by increasing carbon inputs rather than by enhancing soil moisture. Glob Change Biol 17:3546–3563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainsworth EA, Long SP (2005) What have we learned from 15 years of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)—a meta-analytic review of the responses of photosynthesis, canopy properties and plant production to rising CO2. New Phytol 165:351–372CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Amthor JS (1997) Plant respiratory responses to elevated CO2 partial pressure. In: Allen LH, Kirkham MB, Olszyk DM, Whitman CE (Eds) Advances in carbon dioxide effects research. Madison: ASA, CSSA and SSSA 35–77 American Society of Agronomy Special Publication (proceedings of 1993 ASA Symposium, Cincinnati, OH)Google Scholar
  4. Amthor JS, Koch GW, Bloom AJ (1992) CO2 Inhibits respiration in leaves of Rumex crispus L. Plant Physiol 98:757–760CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Beer C, Reichstein M, Tomelleri E, Ciais P, Jung M, Carvalhais N, Rödenbeck C, Arain MA, Baldocchi D, Bonan GB, Bondeau A, Cescatti A, Lasslop G, Lindroth A, Lomas M, Luyssaert S, Margolis H, Oleson KW, Roupsard O, Veenendaal E, Viovy N, Williams C, Woodward FI, Papale D (2010) Terrestrial gross carbon dioxide uptake: global distribution and covariation with climate. Science 32:834–838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buckley LB, Nufio CR, Kingsolver JG (2013) Phenotypic clines, energy balances and ecological responses to climate change. J Anim Ecol 83:41–50CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bunn C, Laderach P, Ovalle-Rivera O, Kirschke D (2015) A bitter cup: climate change profile of global production of Arabica and Robusta coffee. Clim Change 129:89–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaturvedi AK, Vashistha RK, Rawat N, Prasad P, Nautiyal MC (2009) Effect of CO2 enrichment on photosynthetic behaviour of Podophyllum Hexandrum, an endangered medicinal herb. J Am Sci 5:113–118Google Scholar
  9. Cheng W, Sims, DA, Luo Y, Johnson DW, Ball JT, Coleman JS (2000) Carbon budgeting in plant-soil mesocosms under elevated CO2: locally missing carbon? Glob Change Biol 6:99–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (2014) Accessed 3 Mar 2018
  11. Dlugokencky E, Tans P (2017) Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA/ESRL). Accessed 3 Mar 2018
  12. Drake BG, Gonzalez-Meler MA, Long SP (1997) More efficient plants: a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 48:609–639CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Drake BG, Azcón-Bieto J, Berry JA, Bunce J, Dijkstra P, Farrar J, Koch GW, Gifford R, Gonzàlez-Meler MA, Lambers H et al (1999) Does elevated CO2 inhibit plant mitochondrial respiration in green plants. Plant Cell Environ 22:649–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ghasemzadeh A, Jaafar HZE, Rahmat A (2010) Synthesis of phenolics and flavonoids in ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and their effects on photosynthesis rate. Int J Mol Sci 11:4539–4555CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Gopalakrishna R, Mathangi JR, Bala G, Ravindranath NH (2011) Climate change and Indian Forest. Curr Sci 101:25–29Google Scholar
  16. Griffin KL, Ball JT, Strain BR (1996) Direct and indirect effects of elevated CO2 on whole-shoot respiration in ponderosa pine seedlings. Tree Physiol 16:33–41CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamilton JG, Thomas RB, Delucia EH (2001) Direct and indirect effects of elevated CO2 on leaf respiration in a forest ecosystem. Plant Cell Environ 24:975–982CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Houghton RA (2007) Balancing the global carbon budget. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 35:313–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ibrahim MH, Jaafar HZ (2011) Increased carbon dioxide concentration improves the antioxidative properties of the Malaysian herb Kacip Fatimah (Labisia pumila). Molecules 16:6068–6081CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Ibrahim MH, Hawa ZE, Jaafar HZ (2012) Impact of elevated carbon dioxide on primary, secondary metabolites and antioxidant responses of Eleais guineensis Jacq. (Oil Palm) seedlings. Molecules 17:5195–5211CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Idso SB, Kimball BA, Pettit GR, Garner LC, Backhaus RA (2000) Effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on the growth and development of Hymenocallis littoralis (Amaryllidaceae) and the concentrations of several antineoplastic and antiviral constituents of its bulbs. Am J Bot 87:769–773CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. IPCC (2007) Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary Report of the working group of IPCC ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Keidel L, Kammann C, Grünhage L, Moser G, Müller C (2015) Positive feedback of elevated CO2 on soil respiration in late autumn and winter. Biogeosciences 12:1257–1269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lin W, Wang D (1998) Effects of elevated CO2 on growth and carbon partitioning in rice. Chin Sci Bull 43:1982–1986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Melillo JM, Mcguire AD, Kicklighter DW, Moore B, Vorosmarty CJ, Schloss AL (1993) Global climate change and terrestrial net primary production. Nature 363:234–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mirjalili MH, Moyano E, Bonfill M, Cusido RM, Palazon J (2009) Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. Molecules 14:2373–2393CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Morison JIL, Gifford RA (1984) Plant growth and water use with limited water supply in high CO2 concentrations: leaf area, water use, and transpiration. Aust J Plant Physiol 11:361–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nowak RS, Ellsworth DS, Smith SD (2004) Functional responses of plants to elevated atmospheric CO2 do photosynthetic and productivity data from FACE experiments support early predictions. New Phytol 162:253–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oliveira VF, Zaidan LBP, Braga MR, Aidar MPM, Carvalho MAM (2010) Elevated CO2 atmosphere promotes plant growth and inulin production in the cerrado species Vernonia herbacea. Funct Plant Biol 37:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Parmesan C (2006) Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 37:637–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (2007) Technical summary Box TS.6. The main projected impacts for regions, in IPCC AR4 WG2 pp 59–63Google Scholar
  32. Patwardhan B, Panse GT, Kulkarni PH (1998) Ashwagandha a review. J Natl Integr Med Assoc 30:7–11Google Scholar
  33. Pendall E, Leavitt SW, Brooks T, Kimball BA, Pinter PJ, Wall GW, LaMorte RL, Wechsung G, Wechsung F, Adamsen F, Matthias AD, Thompson TL (2001) Elevated CO2 stimulates soil respiration in a FACE wheat field. Basic Appl Ecol 2:193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pinelli P, Loreto F (2003) (CO2)–C-12 emission from different metabolic pathways measured in illuminated and darkened C-3 and C-4 leaves at low, atmospheric and elevated CO2 concentration. J Exp Bot 54:1761–1769CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Prajapati ND, Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Kumar T (2003) A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. Jodhpur: Agrobios India p 756Google Scholar
  36. Raich JW, Schlesinger WH (1992) The global carbon dioxide flux in soil respiration and its relationship to vegetation and climate. Tellus B Chem Phys Meteorol 44:81–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Saadi S, Todorovic M, Tanasijevic L, Pereira LS, Pizzigalli C, Lionello P (2015) Climate change and Mediterranean agriculture: impacts on winter wheat and tomato crop evapotranspiration, irrigation requirements and yield. Agric Water Manag 147:103–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Saravanan S (2014) Gas exchange characteristics in Tectona grandis L. clones under varying concentrations of CO2 levels. J Stress Physiol Biochem 10:122–133Google Scholar
  39. Saravanan S, Karthi S (2014) Effect of elevated CO2 on growth and biochemical changes in Catharanthus roseus- a valuable medicinal herb. World J Pharm Pharm Sci 3:411–422Google Scholar
  40. Sattler R, Rutishauser R (1997) The fundamental relevance of morphology and morphogenesis to plant research. Ann Bot 80:571–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Singh P, Guleri R, Singh V, Kaur G, Katari H, Singh B, Kaura G, Kaul SC, Wadhwa R, Pati PK (2015) Biotechnological interventions in Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev 19:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Singh H, Sharma R, Verma A, Kumar M, Kumar S (2016) Can atmospheric CO2 enrichment alter growth dynamics, structure and functioning of medicinal and aromatic plant (Tulsi)? An approach to understand adaptation and mitigation potential of medicinal and aromatic plants in wake of climate change scenario. In: Annual session of the national academy of sciences India, jointly organized by National Academy of Sciences India and Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST), Dehradun, 2–4 Dec 2016, pp 94Google Scholar
  43. Singh H, Savita A, Sharma R, Sinha S, Kumar M, Kumar P, Verma A, Sharma SK (2017) Physiological functioning of Lagerstroemia speciosa L. under heavy roadside traffic: an approach to screen potential species for abatement of urban air pollution. 3 Biotech 7:1–10Google Scholar
  44. Singh H, Sharma R, Savita A, Singh MP, Kumar M, Verma A, Ansari MW, Sharma SK 2018 adaptive physiological response of Parthenium hysterophorus to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration. Ind For 144:1–14Google Scholar
  45. Stuhlfauth T, Fock HP (1990) Effects of whole season CO2 enrichment on the cultivation of a medicinal plant, Digitalis lanata. J Agron Crop Sci 164:168–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stuhlfauth T, Klug K, Fock HP (1987) The production of secondary metabolites by Digitalis lanata during CO2 enrichment and water stress. Phytochemistry 26:2735–2739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stulen I, den Hertog J (1993) Root growth and functioning under atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Plant Ecol 104:99–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stutt GW, Eraso I, Rimando AM (2008) Carbon dioxide enrichment enhances growth and flavonoid content of two Scutellaria species. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 133:631–638Google Scholar
  49. Tan ZX, Liu S, Johnston CA, Loveland TR, Tieszen LL, Liu J, Kurtz R (2005) Soil organic carbon dynamics as related to land use history in the northwestern Great Plains. Global Biogeochem Cycles 19:GB3011. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tan KY, Zhou GS, Ren SX (2013) Response of leaf dark respiration of winter wheat to changes in CO2 concentration and temperature. Chin Sci Bull 58:1795–1800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taylor G, Ranasinghe S, Bosac C, Gardner SDL, Ferris R (1994) Elevated CO2 and plant growth: cellular mechanisms and responses of whole plants. J Exp Bot 45:1761–1774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thomas CD, Cameron A, Green RE, Bakkenes M, Beaumont LJ, Collingham YC et al (2004) Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427:145–148CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Thompson AR, Doelling JH, Suttangkakul A, Vierstra RD (2005) Autophagic nutrient recycling in Arabidopsis directed by the ATG8 and ATG12 conjugation pathways. Plant Physiol 138:2097–2110CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. Tilman D, Lehman C (2001) Human-caused environmental change: impacts on plant diversity and evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:5433–5440CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Tisserat B (2002) Influence of ultra-high carbon dioxide levels on growth and morphogenesis of Lamiaceae species in soil. J Herbs Spices Med Plants 9:81–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Urban MC (2015) Accelerating extinction risk from climate change. Science 348:571–573CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Vurro E, Bruni R, Bianchi A, Sanità di Toppi L (2009) Elevated CO2 decreases oxidative stress and increases essential oil yield in leaves of Thymus vulgaris grown in a mini-FACE system. Environ Exper Bot 65:99–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Walkley A, Black IA (1934) An examination of Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Sci 37:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Warrier RR, Jayaraj RS, Balu A (2013) Variation in gas exchange characteristics in clones of Eucalyptus сamaldulensis under varying conditions of CO2. J Stress Physiol Biochem 9:333–344Google Scholar
  60. Wu J, Hong J, Wang X, Sun J, Lu X, Fan J, Cai Y (2013) Biomass partitioning and its relationship with the environmental factors at the alpine steppe in northern Tibet. PLoS One 8:12Google Scholar
  61. Zari MP (2014) Ecosystem services analysis in response to biodiversity loss caused by the built environment. Surv Perspect Integr Environ Soc 7:1–14Google Scholar
  62. Ziska LR (2001) Changes in competitive ability between a C4 crop and a C3 weed with elevated carbon dioxide. Weed Sci 49:622–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ziska LR (2002) Influence of rising atmospheric CO2 since 1900 on early growth and photosynthetic response of a noxious invasive weed, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). Funt Plant Biol 29:1387–1392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ziska LH, Panicker S, Wojno HL (2008) Recent and projected increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the potential impacts on growth and alkaloid production in wild poppy (Papaver setigerum DC). Clim Change 91:395–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zobayed SMA, Murch SJ, Rupasinghe HPV, Saxena PK (2003) Elevated carbon supply altered hypericin and hyperforin contents of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) grown in bioreactors. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Cult 75:143–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zou DH, Gao KS (2005) Regulation of gamete release in the economic brown seaweed Hizikia fusiformis (Phaeophyta). Biotechnol Lett 27:915–918CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecology, Climate Change and Forest Influence DivisionForest Research InstituteDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Indian Council of Forestry Research and EducationDehradunIndia

Personalised recommendations