Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2006, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (6): 1054-1063.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2006.0134

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles


TENG Nian-Jun1,2,3, CHEN Tong1,3, LIN Jin-Xing1,*()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Photosynthesis and Environmental Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2 College of Horticulture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
    3 Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2005-10-19 Accepted:2006-01-14 Online:2006-10-19 Published:2006-11-30
  • Contact: LIN Jin-Xing


Plant reproductive traits are key characteristics for predicting the impacts of global changes on plant community, agro-ecosystem and plant ecological fitness. This review seeks to integrate current results about the effects of elevated CO2 on plant reproductive traits in detail based on the existing experimental data in the past few decades. Earlier investigations demonstrate that elevated CO2 advances the flowering time through increasing relative growth rate and accelerating developmental process. All the numbers of flowers, fruits, and seeds, the mass of seed as well as the production of pollen and nectar of plants have been found to be stimulated by CO2 enrichment. It is further revealed that the increase in plant yields results largely from an increase in seed number rather than from individual seed mass. Elevated CO2 concentrations have little effect on seed [N] of legumes, but significantly reduce seed [N] of most nonlegumes. Contents of proteins, amino acids, and some mineral ions usually decrease in seeds of most nonlegumes. Different functional groups of plants are often found to differ markedly in their reproductive responses to elevated CO2: 1) crops allocate more mass to reproduction and produce more fruits and seeds than do undomesticated species; 2) indeterminate plants have stronger responses to elevated CO2 in comparison with determinate species; 3) legumes are most responsive to elevated CO2, followed by nonlegume C3 species, then C4 species. Based on the data available, it seems rational to believe that changes in plant reproductive traits resulting from elevated CO2 may alter the competitive hierarchy, the species composition, and hence the functioning of plant community. Finally, some issues noteworthy for future researches in this field are also put forward with reference to the existing unsolved questions.

Key words: Elevated CO2, Sexual reproduction, Plant responses, Seed quality, Reproductive traits