Northern ragweed ecotypes flower earlier and longer in response to elevated CO2: what are you sneezing atReportar como inadecuado

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, Volume 182, Issue 2, pp 587–594

First Online: 18 June 2016Received: 13 October 2015Accepted: 03 June 2016


Significant changes in plant phenology and flower production are predicted over the next century, but we know relatively little about geographic patterns of this response in many species, even those that potentially impact human wellbeing. We tested for variation in flowering responses of the allergenic plant, Ambrosia artemisiifolia common ragweed. We grew plants originating from three latitudes in the Northeastern USA at experimental levels of CO2 400, 600, and 800 µL L. We hypothesized that northern ecotypes adapted to shorter growing seasons would flower earlier than their southern counterparts, and thus disproportionately allocate carbon gains from CO2 to reproduction. As predicted, latitude of origin and carbon dioxide level significantly influenced the timing and magnitude of flowering. Reproductive onset occurred earlier with increasing latitude, with concurrent increases in the number of flowers produced. Elevated carbon dioxide resulted in earlier reproductive onset in all ecotypes, which was significantly more pronounced in the northern populations. We interpret our findings as evidence for ecotypic variation in ragweed flowering time, as well in responses to CO2. Thus, the ecological and human health implications of common ragweed’s response to global change are likely to depend on latitude. We conclude that increased flower production, duration, and possibly pollen output, can be expected in Northeastern United States with rising levels of CO2. The effects are likely, however, to be most significant in northern parts of the region.

KeywordsEcotypes CO2 Phenology Plant Ragweed Communicated by Katherine L. Gross.

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Autor: Kristina A. Stinson - Jennifer M. Albertine - Laura M. S. Hancock - Tristram G. Seidler - Christine A. Rogers


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