An In Vivo Analysis of the Effect of Season-Long Open-Air Elevation of Ozone to Anticipated 2050 Levels on Photosynthesis in Soybean1


American Society of Plant Biologists


Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) is widely recognized, but less appreciated is a concomitant rise in tropospheric ozone concentration ([O3]). In industrialized countries, [O3] has risen by 0.5% to 2.5% per year. Tropospheric [O3] is predicted to reach a global mean of >60 nL L−1 by 2050 with greater averages locally. Previous studies in enclosures suggest that this level of [O3] will decrease leaf photosynthesis, thereby limiting growth and yield of Glycine max L. Merr. SoyFACE (Soybean Free Air gas Concentration Enrichment) is the first facility to elevate atmospheric [O3] (approximately 1.2× current) in replicated plots under completely open-air conditions within an agricultural field. Measurements of gas exchange (assimilation versus light and assimilation versus intercellular [CO2]) were made on excised leaves from control and treatment plots (n = 4). In contrast to expectations from previous chamber studies, elevated [O3] did not alter light-saturated photosynthesis (Asat, P = 0.09), carboxylation capacity (Vc,max, P = 0.82), or maximum electron transport (Jmax, P = 0.66) for the topmost most recently fully expanded leaf at any stage of crop development. Leaves formed during the vegetative growth stage did not show a significant ozone-induced loss of photosynthetic capacity as they aged. Leaves formed during flowering did show a more rapid loss of photosynthetic capacity as they aged in elevated [O3]. Asat, Vc,max, and Jmax (P = 0.04, 0.004, and 0.002, respectively) were decreased 20% to 30% by treatment with ozone. This is noteworthy since these leaves provide photosynthate to the developing grain. In conclusion, a small (approximately 20%) increase in tropospheric [O3] did not significantly alter photosynthetic capacity of newly expanded leaves, but as these leaves aged, losses in photosynthetic carbon assimilation occurred.

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