Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration leads to increased whole-plant isoprene emission in hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides)


Author for correspondence:

Steffen M. Noe

Tel: +372 59 192254

Email: steffen.noe@emu.ee


  • Effects of elevated atmospheric [CO2] on plant isoprene emissions are controversial. Relying on leaf-scale measurements, most models simulating isoprene emissions in future higher [CO2] atmospheres suggest reduced emission fluxes. However, combined effects of elevated [CO2] on leaf area growth, net assimilation and isoprene emission rates have rarely been studied on the canopy scale, but stimulation of leaf area growth may largely compensate for possible [CO2] inhibition reported at the leaf scale. This study tests the hypothesis that stimulated leaf area growth leads to increased canopy isoprene emission rates.
  • We studied the dynamics of canopy growth, and net assimilation and isoprene emission rates in hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides) grown under 380 and 780 μmol mol−1 [CO2]. A theoretical framework based on the Chapman–Richards function to model canopy growth and numerically compare the growth dynamics among ambient and elevated atmospheric [CO2]-grown plants was developed.
  • Plants grown under elevated [CO2] had higher C : N ratio, and greater total leaf area, and canopy net assimilation and isoprene emission rates. During ontogeny, these key canopy characteristics developed faster and stabilized earlier under elevated [CO2]. However, on a leaf area basis, foliage physiological traits remained in a transient state over the whole experiment.
  • These results demonstrate that canopy-scale dynamics importantly complements the leaf-scale processes, and that isoprene emissions may actually increase under higher [CO2] as a result of enhanced leaf area production.