Photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO2 in a sunflower canopy

Daniel A. Sims, Weixin Cheng, Yiqi Luo, Jeffrey R. Seemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Sunflower canopies were grown in mesocosom gas exchange chambers at ambient and elevated CO2 concentrations (360 and 700 ppm) and leaf photosynthetic capacities measured at several depths within each canopy. Elevated [CO2] had little effect on whole-canopy photosynthetic capacity and total leaf area, but had marked effects on the distribution of photosynthetic capacity and leaf area within the canopy. Elevated [CO2] did not significantly reduce the photosynthetic capacities per unit leaf area of young leaves at the top of the canopy, but it did reduce the photosynthetic capacities of older leaves by as much as 40%. This effect was not dependent on the canopy light environment since elevated [CO2] also reduced the photosynthetic capacities of older leaves exposed to full sun on the south edge of the canopy. In addition to the effects on leaf photosynthetic capacity, elevated [CO2] shifted the distribution of leaf area within the canopy so that more leaf area was concentrated near the top of the canopy. This change resulted in as much as a 50% reduction in photon flux density in the upper portions of the elevated [CO2] canopy relative to the ambient [CO2] canopy, even though there was no significant difference in the total canopy leaf area. This reduction in PFD appeared to account for leaf carbohydrate contents that were actually lower for many of the shaded leaves in the elevated as opposed to the ambient [CO2] canopy. Photosynthetic capacities were not significantly correlated with any of the individual leaf carbohydrate contents. However, there was a strong negative correlation between photosynthetic capacity and the ratio of hexose sugars to sucrose, consistent with the hypothesis that sucrose cycling is a component of the biochemical signalling pathway controlling photosynthetic acclimation to elevated [CO2].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-653
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number334
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • CO
  • Carbohydrates
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Helianthus annuus
  • Light
  • Nitrogen
  • Photosynthesis
  • Rubisco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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