The impact of elevated [CO2] on seed germination was studied in different genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana from natural populations. Two generations of seeds were studied: the maternal generation was produced in the greenhouse (present-day conditions), the offspring generation was produced in two chambers where the CO2 concentration was either the present atmospheric concentration (about 350 ppm) or elevated (700 ppm). The seeds were tested for proportion of germinated seeds and mean germination time in both chambers to study the impact of elevated [CO2] during seed production and germination.
Elevated [CO2] during maturation of seeds on the mother-plants decreased the proportion of germinated seeds, while elevated [CO2] during germination had no effect on the proportion of germinated seeds. However, when seeds were both produced and germinated under elevated [CO2] (situation expected by the end of next century), germination was slow and low.
Moreover, the effect of the [CO2] treatment differs among genotypes of Arabidopsis: there is a strong treatment × genotype interaction. This means that there is ample genetic variance for a selective response modiying the effects of high levels of [CO2] in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana. The outcome at the community level will depend on what seeds are available, when they germinate and the resulting competition following germination.