Effects of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) on flowering traits of three horticultural plant species

Sofía López-Cubillos*, Lesley Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Carbon dioxide (CO2) has been increasing homogeneously worldwide since industrial revolution. Current CO2 concentrations are around 400 ppm, which may increase over this century to 430 ppm (best scenario) to > 1000 ppm (worst scenario) (IPCC, 2013). Species-level responses of plant traits to elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2), especially those that affect interactions with pollinators, could potentially have flow-on effects to both ecological communities and horticultural industries. The impacts of eCO2 on flowering traits in pepper (Capsicum annuum - Giant Bell), tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum- var. Tomato Roma) and zucchini (Cucurbita pepo - Zucchini Blackjack), all economically important horticultural species, were investigated. Twenty plants of each species were grown under two treatments: 1) two glasshouses with ambient CO2 (400 ppm), and 2) two with eCO2 (555 ppm). For both treatments, we measured the number of flowers, flower longevity and dry biomass for all species; pollen diameter and number of pollen grains for tomato and zucchini and the sucrose concentration and nectar production in zucchini. Elevated CO2 had few significant effects on the measured traits, the main exceptions being in zucchini, which produced more male flowers, fewer pollen grains per plant and fewer female flowers under this treatment. Pepper also produced fewer flowers at eCO2 while tomato was the least sensitive species. Future studies could be aimed at testing sensitivity of different varieties of these important commercial species to eCO2.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1523-1528
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralian Journal of Crop Science
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Elevated CO
    • Flower longevity
    • Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
    • Pollen
    • Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
    • Vegetable crops
    • Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)


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