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Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 2, April-June 2007
Page(s) 79 - 87
Published online 23 March 2007
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 79-87
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2006035

Drought stress effects on wheat are mitigated by atmospheric CO2 enrichment

Remy Manderscheid and Hans-Joachim Weigel

Institute of Agroecology, Federal Agricultural Research Centre, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany

(Accepted 7 December 2006; published online 23 March 2007)

Abstract - The atmospheric CO2 concentration is predicted to increase and to generate a rise in the global surface temperature, and change the seasonal precipitation pattern. This could aggravate the severity of summer drought conditions and affect crop yield. We studied the effect of the interaction of CO2 and water supply on seasonal absorption of photosynthetically active radiation and radiation-use efficiency of aboveground biomass production to understand the processes contributing to final yield. Wheat was grown over two years in open-top chambers at present or future (+280 ppmv) atmospheric CO2 concentration and under sufficient water supply or drought stress in lysimeters with a soil depth of 0.4 m (first year) or in the field with unrestricted root growth (second year). Drought stress was started after the first node stage by halving the water supply. Our results show that under sufficient watering, CO2 enrichment did not affect the green area index or seasonal radiation absorption. Drought stress always decreased the green area index and accelerated canopy senescence, which in the second year resulted in a decrease of 23% in the seasonal radiation absorption under the present atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 enrichment stimulated the green area index under drought stress in the second year and seasonal radiation absorption was only decreased by 16%. Radiation-use efficiency was reduced by drought and increased by CO2 elevation and the CO2 effect was higher under restricted (+60%) than under sufficient watering (+32%). This implies that CO2 enrichment enhanced final biomass and grain yield by less than 10% under well-watered conditions and by more than 44% under drought stress conditions, respectively. This study indicates that the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration will attenuate the effects of summer drought on wheat grain yield.

Key words: CO2 enrichment / drought / leaf area index / radiation absorption / radiation-use efficiency / water-use efficiency / wheat

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007