Elevated atmospheric [CO2] promotes frost damage in evergreen tree seedlings


J.L. Lutze E-mail: lutze@rsbs.anu.edu.au


Growth under elevated [CO2] promoted spring frost damage in field grown seedlings of snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieb. ex Spreng.), one of the most frost tolerant of eucalypts. Freezing began in the leaf midvein, consistent with it being a major site of frost damage under field conditions. The average ice nucleation temperature was higher in leaves grown under elevated [CO2] (– 5·7 °C versus – 4·3 °C), consistent with the greater incidence of frost damage in these leaves (34% versus 68% of leaves damaged). These results have major implications for agriculture, forestry and vegetation dynamics, as an increase in frost susceptibility may reduce potential gains in productivity from CO2 fertilization and may affect predictions of vegetation change based on increasing temperature.