CO2 studies remain key to understanding a future world

Katie M. Becklin, S. Michael Walker, Danielle A. Way, Joy K. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


(Table presented.). Summary: Characterizing plant responses to past, present and future changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) is critical for understanding and predicting the consequences of global change over evolutionary and ecological timescales. Previous CO2 studies have provided great insights into the effects of rising [CO2] on leaf-level gas exchange, carbohydrate dynamics and plant growth. However, scaling CO2 effects across biological levels, especially in field settings, has proved challenging. Moreover, many questions remain about the fundamental molecular mechanisms driving plant responses to [CO2] and other global change factors. Here we discuss three examples of topics in which significant questions in CO2 research remain unresolved: (1) mechanisms of CO2 effects on plant developmental transitions; (2) implications of rising [CO2] for integrated plant–water dynamics and drought tolerance; and (3) CO2 effects on symbiotic interactions and eco-evolutionary feedbacks. Addressing these and other key questions in CO2 research will require collaborations across scientific disciplines and new approaches that link molecular mechanisms to complex physiological and ecological interactions across spatiotemporal scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • atmospheric carbon dioxide
  • climate change
  • eco-evolutionary feedbacks
  • flowering time
  • leaf gas exchange
  • plant hydraulics
  • plant–microbe interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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