Elevated [CO2] negatively impacts C4photosynthesis under heat and water stress without penalizing biomass

Yazen Al-Salman*, Oula Ghannoum, Francisco Javier Cano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated [CO2] (eCO2) and water stress reduce leaf stomatal conductance (gs), which may affect leaf thermoregulation during heat waves (heat stress). Two sorghum lines, with different leaf width were grown in a glasshouse at a mean day temperature of 30 °C, under different [CO2] and watering levels, and subjected to heat stress (43 °C) for 6 d at the start of the reproductive stage. We measured leaf photosynthetic and stomatal responses to light transients before harvesting the plants. Photosynthesis at growth conditions (Agrowth) and biomass accumulation were enhanced by eCO2 under control conditions. Heat stress increased gs, especially in wider leaves, and reduced the time constant of stomatal opening (kopen) at ambient [CO2] but not eCO2. However, heat stress reduced photosynthesis under water stress and eCO2 due to increased leaf temperature and reduced evaporative cooling. eCO2 prevented the reduction of biomass under both water and heat stress, possibly due to improved plant and soil water status as a result of reduced gs. Our results suggest that the response of the C4 crop sorghum to future climate conditions depends on the trade-off between low gs needed for high water use efficiency and drought tolerance, and the high gs needed for improved thermoregulation and heat tolerance under an eCO2 future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2875-2890
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023


  • Cphotosynthesis
  • COresponse
  • drought response
  • heat tolerance
  • leaf temperature
  • sorghum
  • stomatal kinetics


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