Lewis, J. D., M. Lucash, D. M. Olszyk, D. T. Tingey. 2004 Relationships between needle nitrogen concentration and photosynthetic responses of Douglas-fir seedlings to elevated CO2 and temperature New Phytologist 162(2):355-364. WED-04-006
Here we examined correlations between needle nitrogen concentration ([N]) and photosynthetic responses of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings to growth in elevated temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations ([CO2]). Seedlings were grown in sunlit, climate-controlled chambers at ambient or ambient +3.5°C and ambient or ambient +180 µmol mol1 CO2 in a full factorial design. Photosynthetic parameters and needle [N] were measured six times over a 21-month period. Needle [N] varied seasonally, and accounted for 30–50% of the variation in photosynthetic parameters. Across measurement periods, elevated temperature increased needle [N] by 26% and light-saturated net photosynthetic rates by 17%. Elevated [CO2] decreased needle [N] by 12%, and reduced net photosynthetic rates measured at a common [CO2], maximum carboxylation activity (Vc,max) and electron transport capacity (Jmax), indicating photosynthetic acclimatization. Even so, elevated [CO2] enhanced net photosynthesis, and this effect increased with needle [N]. These results suggest that needle [N] may regulate photosynthetic responses of Douglas-fir to climate change. Further, needle [N] may be altered by climate change. However, effects of elevated [CO2] on photosynthesis may be similar across growth temperatures.