Water availability moderates N 2 fixation benefit from elevated [CO 2 ]: A 2-year free-air CO 2 enrichment study on lentil (Lens culinaris MEDIK.) in a water limited agroecosystem Academic Article uri icon


  • Increased biomass and yield of plants grown under elevated [CO2 ] often corresponds to decreased grain N concentration ([N]), diminishing nutritional quality of crops. Legumes through their symbiotic N2 fixation may be better able to maintain biomass [N] and grain [N] under elevated [CO2 ], provided N2 fixation is stimulated by elevated [CO2 ] in line with growth and yield. In Mediterranean-type agroecosystems, N2 fixation may be impaired by drought, and it is unclear whether elevated [CO2 ] stimulation of N2 fixation can overcome this impact in dry years. To address this question, we grew lentil under two [CO2 ] (ambient ~400 ppm and elevated ~550 ppm) levels in a free-air CO2 enrichment facility over two growing seasons sharply contrasting in rainfall. Elevated [CO2 ] stimulated N2 fixation through greater nodule number (+27%), mass (+18%), and specific fixation activity (+17%), and this stimulation was greater in the high than in the low rainfall/dry season. Elevated [CO2 ] depressed grain [N] (-4%) in the dry season. In contrast, grain [N] increased (+3%) in the high rainfall season under elevated [CO2 ], as a consequence of greater post-flowering N2 fixation. Our results suggest that the benefit for N2 fixation from elevated [CO2 ] is high as long as there is enough soil water to continue N2 fixation during grain filling.


  • Parvin, Shahnaj
  • Uddin, Shihab
  • Bourgault, Maryse
  • Roessner, Ute
  • Tausz-Posch, Sabine
  • Armstrong, Roger
  • O'Leary, Garry
  • Fitzgerald, Glenn
  • Tausz, Michael

publication date

  • 2018