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Physiological acclimation dampens initial effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration in mature boreal Norway spruce

Journal article
Authors Shubhangi Lamba
Marianne Hall
Mats Räntfors
Nitin Chaudhary
Sune Linder
Danielle Way
Johan Uddling
Göran Wallin
Published in Plant, Cell and Environment
Volume 41
Issue 2
Pages 300–313
ISSN 0140-7791
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 300–313
Language en
Keywords carboxylation efficiency; intercellular CO2 concentration; Picea abies; transpiration; Vcmax; whole-tree chambers
Subject categories Other Biological Topics, Terrestrial ecology, Botany


Physiological processes of terrestrial plants regulate the land–atmosphere exchange of carbon, water, and energy, yet few studies have explored the acclimation responses of mature boreal conifer trees to climate change. Here we explored the acclimation responses of photosynthesis, respiration, and stomatal conductance to elevated temperature and/or CO2 concentration ([CO2]) in a 3-year field experiment with mature boreal Norway spruce. We found that elevated [CO2] decreased photosynthetic carboxylation capacity (−23% at 25 °C) and increased shoot respiration (+64% at 15 °C), while warming had no significant effects. Shoot respiration, but not photosynthetic capacity, exhibited seasonal acclimation. Stomatal conductance at light saturation and a vapour pressure deficit of 1 kPa was unaffected by elevated [CO2] but significantly decreased (−27%) by warming, and the ratio of intercellular to ambient [CO2] was enhanced (+17%) by elevated [CO2] and decreased (−12%) by warming. Many of these responses differ from those typically observed in temperate tree species. Our results show that long-term physiological acclimation dampens the initial stimulation of plant net carbon assimilation to elevated [CO2], and of plant water use to warming. Models that do not account for these responses may thus overestimate the impacts of climate change on future boreal vegetation–atmosphere interactions.

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