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Asymmetric responses of adaxial and abaxial stomata to elevated CO2: impacts on the control of gas exchange by leaves.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/1995
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Journal number8
Volume18
Number of pages7
Pages837-843
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The response of adaxial and abaxial stomatal conductance in Rumex obtusifolius to growth at elevated atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (250 μmol mol−1 above ambient) was investigated over two growing seasons. The conductance of both the adaxial and abaxial leaf surfaces was found to be reduced by elevated concentrations of CO2. Elevated CO2 caused a much greater reduction in conductance for the adaxial surface than for the abaxial surface. The absence of effects upon stomatal density indicated that the reductions were probably the result of changes in stomatal aperture. Partitioning of gas exchange between the leaf surfaces revealed that increased concentrations of CO2 caused increased rates of photosynthesis only via the abaxial surface. Additionally, leaf thickness was found to increase during growth at elevated concentrations of CO2. The tendency for these amphistomatous leaves to develop a distribution of conductance approaching that of hypostomatous leaves clearly reduced their maximum photosynthetic potential. This conclusion was supported by measurements of stomatal limitation, which showed greater values for the adaxial surfaces, and greater values at elevated CO2. This reduction in photosynthesis may in part be caused by higher diffusive limitations imposed because of increased leaf thickness. In an uncoupled canopy, asymmetrical stomatal responses of the kind identified here may appreciably reduce transpiration. Species which show symmetrical responses are less likely to show reduced transpirational rates, and a redistribution of water loss between species may occur. The implications of asymmetrical stomatal responses for photosynthesis and canopy transpiration are discussed.