Growth and photosynthesis of two eucalypt species during high temperature stress under ambient and elevated [CO2]


John Roden, Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA, fax +1-801-581-4665


Two species of eucalypt (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha and E. rossii) were grown under conditions of high temperatures (45 °C, maximum) and high light (1500 μmol m−2 s−1, maximum) at either ambient (350 μL L−1) or elevated (700 μL L−1) CO2 concentrations for 8 weeks. The growth enhancement, in terms of total dry weight, was 41% and 103% for E. macrorhyncha and E. rossii, respectively, when grown in elevated [CO2]. A reduction in specific leaf area and increased concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates were observed for leaves grown in elevated [CO2]. Plants grown in elevated [CO2] had an overall increase in photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate of 27%; however, when measured at the same CO2 concentration a down-regulation of photosynthesis was evident especially for E. macrorhyncha. During the midday period when temperatures and irradiances were maximal, photosynthetic efficiency as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) was lower in E. macrorhyncha than in E. rossii. Furthermore, Fv/Fm was lower in leaves of E. macrorhyncha grown under elevated than under ambient [CO2]. These reductions in Fv/Fm were accompanied by increases in both photochemical (qP) and nonphotochemical quenching (qN and NPQ), and by increases in the concentrations of xanthophyll cycle pigments with an increased proportion of the total xanthophyll cycle pool comprising of antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin. Thus, increased atmospheric [CO2] may enhance photoinhibition when environmental stresses such as high temperatures limit the capacity of a plant to respond with growth to elevated [CO2].