Effect of climate change on the photosynthetic efficiencies of plants

  • Provide your students with printouts of the following readings to discuss the influence of climate change related factors- increased atmospheric CO2 and rising global temperatures-on the photosynthetic efficiencies of C3 and C4 plants.
  • Use the reading Effects of Rising Atmospheric Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide on Plants from Nature Education to understand the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the photosynthetic efficiency of field-grown plants.
    • Use the text to understand how plant physiology and biochemical compositions change in response to high CO2.
    • Secondary effects like changes in stomatal conductance affect efficiency of carbon fixation and water uptake in plants.
    • Thus, differences in the responses of C3 and C4 plants under these conditions are noted.
    • Discuss the results noting a higher rate of photosynthesis for C3 plants with increased CO2 atmospheric concentrations compared to C4 plants.
  • Use the following reading, Temperature response of photosynthesis in C3, C4, and CAM plants: temperature acclimation and temperature adaptation, to explain how the type of photosynthetic pathway determines the ability of a plant to respond to climate related temperature changes.
  • Use this reading to discuss plant phenotypic plasticity, temperature acclimation and temperature adaptation in terms of photosynthetic efficiencies of C3 and C4 plants.
  • Discuss this in conjunction with the perceived improved photosynthetic efficiency of C3 plants at higher temperatures compared to C4 plants.
Daniel R. Taub (Biology Department, Southwestern University) (C) 2010 Nature Education Citation: Taub, D. (2010) Effects of Rising Atmospheric Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide on Plants. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):21; Citation: Yamori, W., Hikosaka, K. & Way, D.A. Photosynth Res (2014) 119: 101.; Springer Science+Business Media,