Title Genetic variation in Sanguisorba minor after 6 years in situ selection under elevated CO₂
Authors Silvia Wieneke, Daniel Prati, Roland Brandl, Jürg Stöcklin, Harald Auge
Year 2004
Journal Global Change Biology 10:1389-1401
Abstract Genetic variation within plant species in their response to elevated CO₂ could be important for long-term changes in plant community composition because it allows for selection of responsive genotypes. Six years of in situ CO₂ enrichment in a temperate grassland offered a unique opportunity to investigate such microevolutionary changes in a common herb of that plant community, Sanguisorba minor. Plants were grown from seeds collected at the end of a 6-year treatment in either ambient or elevated CO₂. The resulting seedlings were grown under ambient or elevated CO₂ and with or without interspecific competition by Bromus erectus in the greenhouse for two seasons. The effect of competition was included because we expected selection under elevated CO₂ to favour increased competitive ability. Elevated CO₂ in the greenhouse and competition both caused a significant reduction of the total dry mass in S. minor, by 12% and 40%, respectively, with no interaction between CO₂ and competition. Genetic variation in all traits was substantial. Seed families responded differently to competition, but the family × greenhouse CO₂ interaction was rather weak. There was no main effect of the field CO₂ treatment on any parameter analysed in the greenhouse. However, the field CO₂ treatment did significantly interact with the greenhouse CO₂ treatment for the cumulative number of leaves, suggesting microevolutionary change in this plant trait. Families from ambient field CO₂ produced fewer leaves under elevated greenhouse CO₂, whereas families from elevated field CO₂ retained constant number of leaves in either greenhouse CO₂ treatment. Since this resulted in increased litter production of the families from elevated field CO₂ under elevated greenhouse CO₂, the microevolutionary response should, in turn, affect ecosystem functions through dry matter recycling.
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