Photosynthetic stimulation under long-term CO2 enrichment and fertilization is sustained across a closed Populus canopy profile (EUROFACE)


Author for correspondence: Marion Liberloo Tel: +32 3820 22 79 Fax: +32 3820 22 71 Email:


  •  The long-term response of leaf photosynthesis to rising CO2 concentrations [CO2] depends on biochemical and morphological feedbacks. Additionally, responses to elevated [CO2] might depend on the nutrient availability and the light environment, affecting the net carbon uptake of a forest stand.
  • • After 6 yr of exposure to free-air CO2 enrichment (EUROFACE) during two rotation cycles (with fertilization during the second cycle), profiles of light, leaf characteristics and photosynthetic parameters were measured in the closed canopy of a poplar (Populus) short-rotation coppice.
  • • Net photosynthetic rate (Agrowth) was 49% higher in poplars grown in elevated [CO2], independently of the canopy position. Jmax significantly increased (15%), whereas leaf carboxylation capacity (Vcmax), leaf nitrogen (Na) and chlorophyll (Chla) were unaffected in elevated [CO2]. Leaf mass per unit area (LMA) increased in the upper canopy. Fertilization created more leaves in the top of the crown.
  • • These results suggest that the photosynthetic stimulation by elevated [CO2] in a closed-canopy poplar coppice might be sustained in the long term. The absence of any down-regulation, given a sufficient sink capacity and nutrient availability, provides more carbon for growth and storage in this bioenergy plantation.