Stomatal conductance and not stomatal density determines the long-term reduction in leaf transpiration of poplar in elevated CO2
by Tricker P. J., Trewin H., Kull O., Clarkson G. J., Eensalu E.,(2005)
in Oecologia, 143: 652-660. – doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0025-4
Using a free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment, poplar trees (Populus × euramericana clone I214) were exposed to either ambient or elevated [CO2] from planting, for a 5-year period during canopy development, closure, coppice and re-growth. In each year, measurements were taken of stomatal density (SD, number mm−2) and stomatal index (SI, the proportion of epidermal cells forming stomata).
In year 5, measurements were also taken of leaf stomatal conductance (gs, μmol m−2 s−1), photosynthetic CO2 fixation (A, mmol m−2 s−1), instantaneous water-use efficiency (A/E) and the ratio of intercellular to atmospheric CO2 (Ci:Ca).
Elevated [CO2] caused reductions in SI in the first year, and in SD in the first 2 years, when the canopy was largely open. In following years, when the canopy had closed, elevated [CO2] had no detectable effects on stomatal numbers or index.
In contrast, even after 5 years of exposure to elevated [CO2], gs was reduced, A/E was stimulated, and Ci:Ca was reduced relative to ambient [CO2].
These outcomes from the long-term realistic field conditions of this forest FACE experiment suggest that stomatal numbers (SD and SI) had no role in determining the improved instantaneous leaf-level efficiency of water use under elevated [CO2].
We propose that altered cuticular development during canopy closure may partially explain the changing response of stomata to elevated [CO2], although the mechanism for this remains obscure.