Gender-specific and intraspecific responses of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide

TitleGender-specific and intraspecific responses of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsWang X.Z
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages129 pp.
UniversityThe Ohio State University
CityColumbus, OH

I studied gender-specific and intraspecific variations in the physiological responses of Populus tremuloides to elevated CO2 as affected by soil N availability. I also synthesized leaf dark respiration data from independent studies using meta-analysis. Net CO2 assimilation rate (A) of male P. tremuloides was 17.8 and 26.2 umol m-2 s-1 at ambient and elevated CO2, significantly higher than A of females of 15.6 and 21.0 umol m-2 s-1. Male trembling aspen had a higher maximum rate of CO2 fixation by Rubisco and area-based leaf dark respiration (Rda). Mass-based leaf Rd (Rdm), however, was unaffected by gender and CO2 concentration, although the results of meta-analysis on 44 independent observations showed that Rdm was reduced 18.4% by elevated CO2. We found a positive correlation between Rda and leaf starch content, which was higher at elevated CO2, but no correlation between Rda and leaf N content was observed, suggesting the importance of starch content in determining the magnitude of respiration. Total biomass accumulation of female P. tremuloides was higher than that of males in low-N soil and at ambient CO2, but not in other treatments. Elevated CO2, on the other hand, significantly increased total biomass of both male and female trees in low- and high-N soil, with the increase ranging from 22-70% for female and 58-66% for male trees. There was a significant CO2 x genotype interaction in photosynthetic responses to CO2 enrichment, wherein A was significantly enhanced by elevated CO2 for five genotypes in high-N soil and for four genotypes in low-N soil. Enhancement of A by elevated CO2 ranged from 14% to 68%. We found a correlation between the degree of A enhancement to elevated CO2 and stomatal sensitivity to CO2. Stomatal conductance and A of different genotypes also responded differentially to drought stress. Our results suggest that P. tremuloides genotypes and genders respond differentially in A and Rd to rising atmospheric CO2, with the degree of responses dependent upon other environmental factors. These differential responses will likely alter the distribution and population structure of this ecologically important species in a CO2 enriched environment.