Carbon gains by desiccation-tolerant plants at elevated CO2

Z. Tuba, Z. Csintalan, K. Szente, Z. Nagy, J. Grace

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33 Citations (Scopus)


1. There have been no reports of the long-term responses of the desiccation-tolerant (DT) plants to elevated CO2. Xerophyta scabrida is a DT woody shrub, which loses chlorophylls and thylakoids during desiccation: a so-called poikilochlorophyllous desiccation-tolerant species (PDT). When the leaves of X. scabria are allowed to desiccate, the species shows many of the normal features of (P)DT plants. 2. However, the duration of photosynthesis in X. scabria is prolonged by 300% when the measurements are made at 700 as opposed to 350 p.p.m. CO2. The implication is that the carboxylating enzymes must still have been active at this time to enable appreciable photosynthetic activity. This response could have far-reaching implications for the success of such species in a future climate. 3. Lichens and mosses, representing the homoiochlorophyllous DTs (HDT), retain their chlorophyll content and photosynthetic apparatus during desiccation. We show the desiccation responses of two common HDT species (Cladonia convoluta and Tortula ruralis) to elevated CO2 for comparison. Both HDT species showed increased net CO2 uptake in the material grown at high CO2 by more than 30% in moss and by more than 50% in lichen. It is concluded that desiccation-tolerant plants will be among the main beneficiaries of a high CO2 future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1998



  • Desiccation tolerance
  • Elevated CO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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