Direct inhibition of leaf dark respiration by elevated CO2 is minor in 12 grassland species

M. G. Tjoelker, J. Oleksyn, T. D. Lee, P. B. Reich

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38 Scopus citations


• Direct inhibition of dark respiration by elevated atmospheric concentrations of CO2 could alter the carbon balance of plants and ecosystems. The short-term response of leaf dark respiration to elevated CO2 concentrations are reported here in 12 grass and forb species of a North American grassland community. • Specific respiration rates at 25°C and a range of measurement CO2 concentrations were determined for detached leaves of each species field-grown in monoculture. • On average, respiration rates were 1.8% lower at 700 than at 360 μmol mol-1 CO2. Among species, responses ranged from a 6.4% inhibition to a 2.4% stimulation and were generally not statistically significant. Across a range of CO2 concentrations from 360 to 1300 μmol mol-1, respiration rates declined linearly and were 11% lower at 1300 than 360 μmol mol-1 CO2. • Direct inhibition of leaf respiration is small compared with other longer-term, indirect effects of CO2 on carbon exchange. The direct effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations on respiration rates should result in minimal effects on plant carbon exchange in grasslands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-424
Number of pages6
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Direct inhibition
  • Elevated CO
  • Forbs
  • Grasses
  • Respiration


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