The influence of elevated temperature, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration and water stress on net photosynthesis of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) at northern, central and southern sites in its native range


Timothy M. Wertin, tel. +1 706 542 5055, fax +1 706 542 8356, e-mail:


We investigated the effect of elevated [CO2] (700 μmol mol−1), elevated temperature (+2 °C above ambient) and decreased soil water availability on net photosynthesis (Anet) and water relations of one-year old potted loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) seedlings grown in treatment chambers with high fertility at three sites along a north-south transect covering a large portion of the species native range. At each location (Blairsville, Athens and Tifton, GA) we constructed four treatment chambers and randomly assigned each chamber one of four treatments: ambient [CO2] and ambient temperature, elevated [CO2] and ambient temperature, ambient [CO2] and elevated temperature, or elevated [CO2] and elevated temperature. Within each chamber half of the seedlings were well watered and half received much less water (1/4 that of the well watered).

Measurements of net photosynthesis (Anet), stomatal conductance (gs), leaf water potential and leaf fluorescence were made in June and September, 2008. We observed a significant increase in Anet in response to elevated [CO2] regardless of site or temperature treatment in June and September. An increase in air temperature of over 2 °C had no significant effect on Anet at any of the sites in June or September despite over a 6 °C difference in mean annual temperature between the sites. Decreased water availability significantly reduced Anet in all treatments at each site in June. The effects of elevated [CO2] and temperature on gs followed a similar trend. The temperature, [CO2] and water treatments did not significantly affect leaf water potential or chlorophyll fluorescence. Our findings suggest that predicted increases in [CO2] will significantly increase Anet, while predicted increases in air temperature will have little effect on Anet across the native range of loblolly pine. Potential decreases in precipitation will likely cause a significant reduction in Anet, though this may be mitigated by increased [CO2].