How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Response of Potato Plants to Elevated CO2
Kauder, F., Ludewig, F. and Heineke, D.  2000.  Ontogenetic changes of potato plants during acclimation to elevated carbon dioxide.  Journal of Experimental Botany 51: 429-437.

What was done
As part of a more complex experiment, potato (Solanum tuberosum cv. Desiree) plants were grown for up to seven weeks in controlled environments receiving 400 and 1000 ppm CO2 to study the effects of elevated CO2 on growth and tuber production in this important agricultural crop.

What was learned
Elevated CO2 significantly stimulated rates of net photosynthesis and increased relative growth rates, but only in the second and third weeks of the study.  The subsequent acclimation was likely due to accelerated plant development rather than feedback inhibition, for foliar carbohydrate contents in CO2-enriched plants were lower than those observed in leaves of ambiently-grown plants.  In spite of the brevity of the period of growth stimulation, plants grown at 1000 ppm CO2 exhibited final tuber yields that were 30% greater than those of ambiently-grown plants.

What it means
As the CO2 content of the air continues to increase, potato plants will likely display enhanced rates of photosynthesis and growth at some point in their development that will ultimately lead to enhanced tuber yields.  Thus, the CO2 aerial fertilization effect will likely allow greater yields of this important agricultural crop to be produced in the future, which should help to sustain the growing human population of the planet.

Reviewed 26 June 2002