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Increased invasive potential of nonnative Phragmites australis: elevated CO2 and temperature alleviate salinity effects on photosynthesis and growth

August 8, 2013

The prospected rise in atmospheric CO2 and temperature may change the distribution and invasive potential of a species; and intraspecific invasive lineages may respond differently to climate change. In this study, we simulated a future climate scenario with simultaneously elevated atmospheric CO2 and temperature, and investigated its interaction with soil salinity, to assess the effects of global change on the ecophysiology of two competing haplotypes of the wetland grass Phragmites australis, that are invasive in the coastal marshes of North America. The two haplotypes with the phenotypes “EU-type” (Eurasian haplotype) and “Delta-type” (Mediterranean haplotype), were grown at 0 ‰ and 20 ‰ soil salinity, and at ambient or elevated climatic conditions (700 ppm CO2, +5 ⁰C) in a phytotron system.

The aboveground growth of both phenotypes was highest at the elevated climatic conditions. Growth at 20 ‰ salinity resulted in declined aboveground growth, lower transpiration rates (E), stomata conductance (gs), specific leaf area, photosynthetic pigment concentrations and a reduced photosynthetic performance. The negative effects of salinity were, however, significantly less severe at elevated CO2 and temperature than at the ambient climatic conditions.

The Delta-type P. australis had higher shoot elongation rates than the EU-type P. australis, particularly at high salinity. The Delta-type also had higher maximum light-saturated rates of photosynthesis (Asat), maximum carboxylation rates of Rubisco (Vcmax), maximum electron transport rates (Jmax), triose phosphate utilization rates (Tp), stomata conductance (gs), as well as higher Rubisco carboxylation-limited, RuBP regeneration-limited and Tp-regeneration limited CO2 assimilation rates than the EU-type under all growth conditions. Our results suggest that the EU-type will not become dominant over the Delta-type, since the Delta-type has superior ecophysiological traits. However, the projected rise in atmospheric CO2 and temperature will alleviate the effects of salinity on both phenotypes and facilitate their expansion into more saline areas.

Eller F, Lambertini C, Nguyen L X, Brix H, in press., Increased invasive potential of nonnative Phragmites australis: elevated CO2 and temperature alleviate salinity effects on photosynthesis and growth, Global Change Biology, 2013, doi:10.1111/gcb.12346. Article.


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