Photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2 in Phaseolus vulgaris L. is altered by growth response to nitrogen supply Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Longterm exposure of plants to elevated CO2 often leads to downward photosynthetic acclimation. Nitrogen (N) deficiency could potentially exacerbate this response by reducing growth rate and the sink for photosynthates, but this has not always been observed. Experimentally, the interpretation of N effects on CO2 responses can be confounded by increasing severity of tissue N deficiency over time when N supply is not adjusted as demand increases. In this study, N supply ranged from sub to supraoptimal (20540kgNhal equivalent), and relatively stable levels of tissue N concentration were obtained in all treatments by varying twiceweekly application rates in proportion to plant growth. The effects of N on photosynthesis and growth of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) raised at ambient (35Pa) and three elevated (70, 105, 140Pa) CO2 partial pressures (pCO2) were evaluated. Averaging across N treatments, leaf total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) were 2.5 to 3fold higher and leaf N concentrations were 3135% lower at elevated compared to ambient pCO2. Lightsaturated net CO2 assimilation rates measured at growth pCO2 (Asatg) were significantly higher (2640% depending on N supply) in plants grown at elevated compared to ambient pCO2. When measured at a common pCO2 of 35Pa, the Asat of plants grown at elevated CO2 was 1529% less than that of plants grown at 35Pa, indicative of downward photosynthetic acclimation. The magnitude of downward photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2 was greater in plants grown at high (180 and 540kgNhal) compared to low (20 and 60kgNhal) N supply, and this was associated with a higher Asat at growth pCO2, higher leaf area ratio (leaf area/total biomass), and higher TNC in leaves of highN plants. Our results indicate that the effect of N on acclimation to CO2 will depend on the balance between supply and demand for N during the growing period, and the effect this has on biomass allocation and sourcesink C balance at the wholeplant level.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Jifon, J. L., & Wolfe, D. W.

citation count

  • 49

complete list of authors

  • Jifon, JL||Wolfe, DW

publication date

  • October 2002