Influences of soil volume and an elevated CO2 level on growth and CO2 exchange for the Crassulacean acid metabolism plant Opuntia ficus‐indica

Park S. Nobel, Muyi Cui, Patsy M. Miller, Yiqi Luo

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15 Scopus citations


Effects of the current (38 Pa) and an elevated (74 Pa) CO2 partial pressure on root and shoot areas, biomass accumulation and daily net CO2 exchange were determined for Opuntia ficus‐indica (L.) Miller, a highly productive Crassulacean acid metabolism species cultivated worldwide. Plants were grown in environmentally controlled rooms for 18 weeks in pots of three soil volumes (2 600, 6 500 and 26 000 cm3), the smallest of which was intended to restrict root growth. For plants in the medium‐sized soil volume, basal cladodes tended to be thicker and areas of main and lateral roots tended to be greater as the CO2 level was doubled. Daughter cladodes tended to be initiated sooner at the current compared with the elevated CO2 level but total areas were similar by 10 weeks. At 10 weeks, daily net CO2 uptake for the three soil volumes averaged 24% higher for plants growing under elevated compared with current CO2 levels, but at 18 weeks only 3% enhancement in uptake occurred. Dry weight gain was enhanced 24% by elevated CO2 during the first 10 weeks but only 8% over 18 weeks. Increasing the soil volume 10‐fold led to a greater stimulation of daily net CO2 uptake and biomass production than did doubling the CO2 level. At 18 weeks, root biomass doubled and shoot biomass nearly doubled as the soil volume was increased 10‐fold; the effects of soil volume tended to be greater for elevated CO2. The amount of cladode nitrogen per unit dry weight decreased as the CO2 level was raised and increased as soil volume increased, the latter suggesting that the effects of soil volume could be due to nitrogen limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-180
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • CO
  • Crassulacean acid metabolism
  • Opuntia ficus‐indica
  • global climate change
  • productivity
  • root growth
  • shoot growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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