Elevated temperature and CO2 stimulate late season photosynthesis but impair cold hardening in pine
S.D.M.); 0000-0001-9014-2499 (I.E.). Rising global temperature and CO 2 levels may sustain late-season net photosynthesis of evergreen conifers but could also impair the development of cold hardiness. Our study investigated how elevated temperature, and the combination of elevated temperature with elevated CO 2 , affected photosynthetic rates, leaf carbohydrates, freezing tolerance, and proteins involved in photosynthesis and cold hardening in Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). We designed an
... xperiment where control seedlings were acclimated to long photoperiod (day/night 14/10 h), warm temperature (22°C/15°C), and either ambient (400 mL L 21 ) or elevated (800 mmol mol 21 ) CO 2 , and then shifted seedlings to growth conditions with short photoperiod (8/16 h) and low temperature/ambient CO 2 (LTAC), elevated temperature/ambient CO 2 (ETAC), or elevated temperature/elevated CO 2 (ETEC). Exposure to LTAC induced down-regulation of photosynthesis, development of sustained nonphotochemical quenching, accumulation of soluble carbohydrates, expression of a 16-kD dehydrin absent under long photoperiod, and increased freezing tolerance. In ETAC seedlings, photosynthesis was not down-regulated, while accumulation of soluble carbohydrates, dehydrin expression, and freezing tolerance were impaired. ETEC seedlings revealed increased photosynthesis and improved water use efficiency but impaired dehydrin expression and freezing tolerance similar to ETAC seedlings. Sixteen-kilodalton dehydrin expression strongly correlated with increases in freezing tolerance, suggesting its involvement in the development of cold hardiness in P. strobus. Our findings suggest that exposure to elevated temperature and CO 2 during autumn can delay down-regulation of photosynthesis and stimulate late-season net photosynthesis in P. strobus seedlings. However, this comes at the cost of impaired freezing tolerance. Elevated temperature and CO 2 also impaired freezing tolerance. However, unless the frequency and timing of extreme low-temperature events changes, this is unlikely to increase risk of freezing damage in P. strobus seedlings.