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New Phytologist

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Atmospheric carbon dioxide -- Physiological effect, Douglas fir -- Growth, Photosynthesis, Acclimatization (Plants)


  • Here we examined correlations between needle nitrogen concentration ([N]) and photosynthetic responses of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings to growth in elevated temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations ([CO2]).
  • Seedlings were grown in sunlit, climate-controlled chambers at ambient or ambient+3.5° C and ambient or ambient +180 μmol mol-1 CO2 in a full factorial design. Photosynthetic parameters and needle [N] were measured six times over a 21-month period.
  • Needle [N] varied seasonally, and accounted for 30–50% of the variation in photosynthetic parameters. Across measurement periods, elevated temperature increased needle [N] by 26% and light-saturated net photosynthetic rates by 17%. Elevated [CO2] decreased needle [N] by 12%, and reduced net photosynthetic rates measured at a common [CO2], maximum carboxylation activity (Vc,max) and electrontransport capacity (Jmax), indicating photosynthetic acclimatization. Even so, elevated [CO2] enhanced net photosynthesis, and this effect increased with needle [N].
  • These results suggest that needle [N] may regulate photosynthetic responses of Douglas-fir to climate change. Further, needle [N] may be altered by climate change. However, effects of elevated [CO2] on photosynthesis may be similar across growth temperatures.


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