Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2014, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (10): 1064-1073.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2014.00100

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Interactive effects of elevated CO2 concentration and increasing precipitation on yield and growth development in maize

MENG Fan-Chao1,2, ZHANG Jia-Hua2*, and YAO Feng-Mei3   

  1. 1College of Atmospheric Science, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China;

    2Institute of Eco-environment and Agrometeorology, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China;

    3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2014-04-11 Revised:2014-05-17 Online:2014-10-22 Published:2014-10-01
  • Contact: ZHANG Jia-Hua


Aims The yield and growth of maize (Zea mays) have changed due to the influence of climate change. Increasing CO2 concentration ([CO2]) and changes in precipitation are two important aspects of climate change affecting maize. Our objective was to explore the interactive effects of elevated [CO2] and an increase in precipitation on yield and growth in maize, in order to evaluate the effects of future changes in climate change on plant in Northeast China.
Methods This experiment was conducted in Jinzhou, with the maize cultivar ‘Danyu 39’ as plant materials. Open top chambers (OTCs) were used to simulate the elevated [CO2] (control at 390 μmol·mol–1, and elevated at 450 and 550 μmol·mol–1, respectively) and increased precipitation (0 and +15% increase based on the average monthly precipitation from June through August during 1981–2010). Totally six treatments, i.e. C550W+15%, C550W0, C450W+15%, C450W0, C390W+15% and C390W0 were included in this study.
Important findings Significant interactive effects between elevated [CO2] and increased precipitation on corn grain yield and biological yield (p < 0.05) were found. The grain yield and biological yield were increased by the positive effects of the two factors. An increase in precipitation increased the grain yield by 15.94%, 9.95% and 9.45%, and the biological yield by 13.06%, 8.13% and 6.49%, respectively, at [CO2] of 390, 450 and 550 μmol·mol–1. The increase in grain yield was slightly greater than that of the biological yield, resulting in an increase in the economical coefficient. The ear characteristics of maize were significantly affected by the two factors. For example, kernels number, kernels weight, ear length and ear diameter were all increased by elevated [CO2], as well as by an increase in precipitation. However, the shriveled kernels showed a reversed trend of changes. It is noteworthy that the axle diameter was increased by the interactive effects between elevated [CO2] and an increase in precipitation, which constrained the increase in the grain yield. Moreover, there were highly significant interactive effects between elevated [CO2] and an increase in precipitation on net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and leaf area (p < 0.01), and significant interactive effects on plant height and dry matter accumulation (p < 0.05). An increased precipitation increased Pn of the leaves at each [CO2] level. The results also showed that plant height, ear position height, stem diameter, leaf area were all increased by the interactive effects between the two factors, leading to enhanced dry matter accumulation and the yield. It can be concluded that future elevated [CO2] may favor the growth of maize if coupled with increasing precipitation.

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