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Keywords:

  • elevated [CO2];
  • FACE (free-air CO2 enrichment);
  • gene expression;
  • leaf development;
  • microarray;
  • Populus

Summary

  • • 
    The consequences of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide for long-term adaptation of forest ecosystems remain uncertain, with virtually no studies undertaken at the genetic level. A global analysis using cDNA microarrays was conducted following 6 yr exposure of Populus × euramericana (clone I-214) to elevated [CO2] in a FACE (free-air CO2 enrichment) experiment.
  • • 
    Gene expression was sensitive to elevated [CO2] but the response depended on the developmental age of the leaves, and < 50 transcripts differed significantly between different CO2 environments. For young leaves most differentially expressed genes were upregulated in elevated [CO2], while in semimature leaves most were downregulated in elevated [CO2].
  • • 
    For transcripts related only to the small subunit of Rubisco, upregulation in LPI 3 and downregulation in LPI 6 leaves in elevated CO2 was confirmed by anova. Similar patterns of gene expression for young leaves were also confirmed independently across year 3 and year 6 microarray data, and using real-time RT–PCR.
  • • 
    This study provides the first clues to the long-term genetic expression changes that may occur during long-term plant response to elevated CO2.