Elevated CO2 concentration increases photosynthetic sensitivity to nitrogen supply of sorghum in a genotype-dependent manner

Rafael V. Ribeiro*, Carl Otto Ottosen, Eva Rosenqvist, Thayna Medanha, Lamis Abdelhakim, Eduardo C. Machado, Paul C. Struik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We hypothesized that elevated [CO2] only increases sorghum photosynthesis under low nitrogen availability and evaluated whether cultivars BRS373 (grain), BRS511 (saccharine) and BRS655 (forage) differ in their sensitivity to nitrogen and [CO2]. Plants were grown in growth chambers where air [CO2] was 400 (a[CO2]) or 800 (e[CO2]) μmol CO2 mol−1 and supplied with nutrient solution containing 211 (HN) or 48 (LN) ppm N for 45 days. Photosynthetic traits were measured in fully expanded leaves as well as leaf nitrogen and biomass accumulation. e[CO2] increased the sensitivity of photosynthesis to LN, with all sorghum cultivars having lower maximum Rubisco carboxylation rate, effective quantum efficiency of PSII and stomatal conductance at LN than at HN. As compared to HN, LN caused lower photosynthesis of BRS373 at a[CO2] and lower maximum PEPC carboxylation rate at e[CO2]. Actually, the metabolic limitation of photosynthesis by LN (Lm) was high in BRS373 at a[CO2] and slightly reduced at e[CO2]. On the other hand, Lm was increased in BRS511 and BRS655 at e[CO2]. Based on photosynthesis, the grain cultivar BRS373 was the most sensitive to LN. Although the number of leaves and of tillers and the leaf area were lower at LN than at HN for BRS373 and BRS655 after 45 days of growth, shoot biomass was not significantly affected. We found significant variation in photosynthetic responses to LN and e[CO2] among sorghum cultivars, likely associated with different patterns of nitrogen and carbon partitioning. Such findings must be considered when predicting crop performance in a changing environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-210
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Climate change
  • Leaf gas exchange
  • Nutrition
  • Plant growth
  • Sorghum bicolor


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