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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742-5611

Low CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) frequently occur in dense crop canopy. To determine plant performance under sub-atmospheric [CO2], young `Gala' apple plants were phytotron-grown at 928 mmole m-2s-1 light intensity. Whole-plant photosynthesis and respiration under [CO2] between 0 and the ambient level (382 to 460 ml 1-1) were measured by monitoring [CO2] of the air entering and coming out of a 38-1 clear plexiglass gas exchange chamber at either 3.4 or 6.2 1 min-1. The chamber seals two plants of up to 77 cm height for long-term experiments. There was a linear relationship between [CO2] and net photosynthesis (Pn), with the R2 being as high as 0.99. The increase of Pn with increased [CO2] was 51% greater for the high air flow than for the low air flow. At the ambient CO2 level Pn at the high flow rate was 49% higher than that at the low flow rate. CO2 compensation points were 57.6 and 58.5 ml 1-1 at the high and low flow rates, respectively. The relationship between [CO2] and dark respiration was linear. Dark respiration decreased by 20% on average as the [CO2] increased from 0 to the ambient level, and it was 11% higher at the high flow rate than at the low flow rate. These results suggest that wind may act to reduce Pn depression in dense crop canopy by both reducing leaf resistance and atmospheric [CO2] gradient outside the boundary layer.

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