Effects of elevated ozone and low light on diurnal and seasonal carbon gain in sugar maple

M. A. Topa, D. W. Vanderklein, A. Corbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The long-term interactive effects of ozone and light on whole-tree carbon balance of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) seedlings were examined, with an emphasis on carbon acquisition, foliar partitioning into starch and soluble sugars, and allocation to growth. Sugar maple seedlings were fumigated with ambient, 1·7 × ambient and 3·0 × ambient ozone in open-top chambers for 3 years under low and high light (15 and 35% full sunlight, respectively). Three years of ozone fumigation reduced the total biomass of seedlings in the low- and high-light treatments by 64 and 41%, respectively, but had no effect on whole-plant biomass allocation. Ozone had no effect on net photosynthesis until late in the growing season, with low-light seedlings generally exhibiting more pronounced reductions in photosynthesis. The late-season reduction in photosynthesis was not due to impaired stomatal function, but was associated more with accelerated senescence or senescence-like injury. In contrast, the 3·0 × ambient ozone treatment immediately reduced diurnal starch accumulation in leaves by over 50% and increased partitioning of total non-structural carbohydrates into soluble sugars, suggesting that injury repair processes may be maintaining photosynthesis in late spring and early summer at the expense of storage carbon. The results in the present study indicate that changes in leaf-level photosynthesis may not accurately predict the growth response of sugar maple to ozone in different light environments. The larger reduction in seedling growth under low-light conditions suggests that seedlings in gap or closed-canopy environments are more susceptible to ozone than those in a clearing. Similarly, understanding the effects of tropospheric ozone on net carbon gain of a mature tree will require scaling of leaf-level responses to heterogeneous light environments, where some leaves may be more susceptible than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-677
Number of pages15
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • Acer saccharum Marsh
  • Diurnal starch accumulation
  • Net photosynthesis
  • Variable light


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