The long-term response of citrus rootstock seedlings to CO2 enrichment was examined in Carrizo estrange (Poncirua trifoliata (L.) Raf. x Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] and Swingle citrumelo (P. trifoliate x C. parodist Macf.]. Plaotlets 14 weeks old were transferred to outdoor controlled-environment chambers and maintained for 5 months from Feb. 14 to July 21. During this period, new growth (cm) of citrange and citrumelo shoots at 660 μl1−1 was 94 and 69% greater, respectively, than at 330 μ1 1−1. Total dry weight of both rootstock shoots had increased by over 100%. Growth of few species is affected this markedly by elevated CO2 levels.
More carbon was partitioned to above-ground organs in CO2-enriched citrus seedlings. Stem dry matter per unit length was also 32 and 44% greater in citrange and citrumelo, respectively. Total leaf area was increased by 124% in citrange and 85% in citrumelo due to greater leaf number and size. Variations in overall relative growth rate appeared to be related to the rapid, sequential, flush-type growth in citrus, in which an entire shoot segment with its associated leaves remains an active sink until fully expanded. RuBP carboxylase (EC 220.127.116.11) activity in leaves of recently-expanded flushes was higher in citrumelo plants grown at 660 vs 330 μ1 1−1 CO2 and changed diurnally for citrange (but not citrumelo) leaves at both CO2 levels. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that positive long-term effects of CO2 enrichment may be greater in species or during growth periods where sink capacity for carbon utilization is high.