10 Feb 2009, 9:42pm
Latest Climate News
by admin

High CO2 boosts plant respiration, potentially affecting climate and crops

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Press Release, 9-Feb-2009 [here]

The leaves of soybeans grown at the elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels predicted for the year 2050 respire more than those grown under current atmospheric conditions, researchers report, a finding that will help fine-tune climate models and could point to increased crop yields as CO2 levels rise.

The study, from researchers at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Plants draw CO2 from the atmosphere and make sugars through the process of photosynthesis. But they also release some CO2 during respiration as they use the sugars to generate energy for self-maintenance and growth. How elevated CO2 affects plant respiration will therefore influence future food supplies and the extent to which plants can capture CO2 from the air and store it as carbon in their tissues. …

The results were striking. At least 90 different genes coding the majority of enzymes in the cascade of chemical reactions that govern respiration were switched on (expressed) at higher levels in the soybeans grown at high CO2 levels. This explained how the plants were able to use the increased supply of sugars from stimulated photosynthesis under high CO2 conditions to produce energy, Leakey said. The rate of respiration increased 37 percent at the elevated CO2 levels.

The enhanced respiration is likely to support greater transport of sugars from leaves to other growing parts of the plant, including the seeds, Leakey said.

“The expression of over 600 genes was altered by elevated CO2 in total, which will help us to understand how the response is regulated and also hopefully produce crops that will perform better in the future,” he said. … [more]

Note: see also the discussion at Watts Up With That [here]

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