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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increase in leaf mass per area benefits plant growth at elevated CO2 concentration.

An increase in leaf mass per area (MLA) of plants grown at elevated [CO2] is often accompanied by accumulation of non-structural carbohydrates, and has been considered to be a response resulting from source-sink imbalance. We hypothesized that the increase in MLA benefits plants by increasing the net assimilation rate through maintaining a high leaf nitrogen content per area (NLA). To test this hypothesis, Polygonum cuspidatum was grown at ambient (370 micro mol mol-1) and elevated (700 micro mol mol-1) [CO2] with three levels of N supply. Elevated [CO2] significantly increased MLA with smaller effects on NLA and leaf mass ratio (fLM). The effect of change in MLA on plant growth was investigated by the sensitivity analysis: MLA values observed at ambient and elevated [CO2] were substituted into a steady-state growth model to calculate the relative growth rate (R). At ambient [CO2], substitution of a high MLA (observed at elevated [CO2]) did not increase R, compared with R for a low MLA (observed at ambient [CO2]), whereas at elevated [CO2] the high MLA always increased R compared with R at the low MLA. These results suggest that the increase in MLA contributes to growth enhancement under elevated [CO2]. The optimal combination of fLM and MLA to maximize R was determined for different [CO2] and N availabilities. The optimal fLM was nearly constant, while the optimal MLA increased at elevated [CO2], and decreased at higher N availabilities. The changes in fLM of actual plants may compensate for the limited plasticity of MLA.[1]


  1. Increase in leaf mass per area benefits plant growth at elevated CO2 concentration. Ishizaki, S., Hikosaka, K., Hirose, T. Ann. Bot. (2003) [Pubmed]
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