Bioenergy sorghum maintains photosynthetic capacity in elevated ozone concentrations

Shuai Li, Christopher A Moller, Noah G Mitchell, DoKyoung Lee, Elizabeth A Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevated tropospheric ozone concentration (O3) significantly reduces photosynthesis and productivity in several C4 crops including maize, switchgrass and sugarcane. However, it is unknown how O3 affects plant growth, development and productivity in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.), an emerging C4 bioenergy crop. Here, we investigated the effects of elevated O3 on photosynthesis, biomass and nutrient composition of a number of sorghum genotypes over two seasons in the field using free-air concentration enrichment (FACE), and in growth chambers. We also tested if elevated O3 altered the relationship between stomatal conductance and environmental conditions using two common stomatal conductance models. Sorghum genotypes showed significant variability in plant functional traits, including photosynthetic capacity, leaf N content and specific leaf area, but responded similarly to O3. At the FACE experiment, elevated O3 did not alter net CO2 assimilation (A), stomatal conductance (gs), stomatal sensitivity to the environment, chlorophyll fluorescence and plant biomass, but led to reductions in the maximum carboxylation capacity of phosphoenolpyruvate and increased stomatal limitation to A in both years. These findings suggest that bioenergy sorghum is tolerant to O3 and could be used to enhance biomass productivity in O3 polluted regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-746
Number of pages18
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 27 2020
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • biomass
  • BWB model
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • MED model
  • photosynthesis
  • stomatal conductance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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