Long-term effects of elevated CO2 and nutrients on photosynthesis and rubisco in loblolly pine seedlings


Dr David Tissue, Department of Botany, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0340, USA.


The effects of long-term CO2 enhancement and varying nutrient availability on photosynthesis and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (rubisco) were studied on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) seedlings grown in two atmospheric CO2 partial pressures (35 and 65 Pa) and three nutrient treatments (low N, low P, and high N and P). Measurements taken in late autumn (November) after 2 years of CO2 enrichment and nutrient addition showed that photosynthetic rates were higher for plants grown at elevated CO2 only when they received supplemental N. Total rubisco activity and rubisco content decreased at elevated CO2, but there was an increase in activation state. At elevated CO2, proportionately less N was found in rubisco and more N was found in the light reaction components. These results demonstrate acclimation of photosynthetic processes to elevated CO2 through reallocation of N. Loblolly pine grown in nutrient conditions similar to native soils (low N availability) had lower needle N and chlorophyll content, lower total rubisco activity and content, and lower photosynthetic rates than plants grown at high N and P. This suggests that the magnitude of the photosynthetic response to a future, high-CO2 environment will be dependent on soil fertility in the system.