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The influence of elevated CO2 on the photosynthesis, carbohydrate status, and plastochron of young peach (Prunuspersica) trees


The plastochron, defined as the time interval between the initiations of two successive leaves, can also indicate the development of successive phytomers along a shoot. Previous work has shown that crop load impacts the plastochron in field-grown peach (Prunuspersica) trees, which led us to hypothesize that the plastochron of peach trees may be sensitive to the carbon status of the tree. To testthis hypothesis, a 38-day growth chamber study was conducted to determine if elevated CO2 (800 μmol·mol-1) speeds up the plastochron of young peach trees relative to their growth in ambient (400 μmol·mol-1) CO2. The leaf lamina lengths were measured every other day to generate leaf growth rate curves that were fitted against a classic Gompertz growth curve to estimate the time of the initiation of each leaf, which in turn, was used to estimate the plastochron. Additionally, in order to non-destructively gauge the effects of CO2 concentration on plant performance during the experiment, net leaf CO2 assimilation and stomatal conductance measurements were taken approximately half way through and at the end of the 38-day experiment. Doubling the ambient CO2 concentration had no effect on the plastochron, even though the leaf CO2 assimilation rates, leaf starch and total nonstructural carbohydrate concentrations were greater in trees grown in elevated CO2. In addition, there were no significant treatment differences in incremental shoot growth or the number of lateral syleptic shoots.

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