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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Dr Robert Baxter

Pierce,S., Stirling,CM. & Baxter,R. (2003). Pseudoviviparous reproduction of Poa alpina var. vivipara L. (Poaceae) during long-term exposure to elevated atmospheric CO2. Annals of Botany 91(6): 613-622.

Author(s) from Durham


Pseudovivipary is an asexual reproductive strategy exhibited by some arctic/alpine grasses in which leafy plantlets are produced in place of seeds, with genetic conservation an advantage for stress tolerators in these nutrient-poor habitats. Photosynthetic metabolism and the development of this reproductive system were investigated under varying nutrient availability and predicted future CO2 partial pressure (pCO2). Poa alpina var. vivipara L., grown at present ambient pCO2 or ambient plus 340 µmol mol–1 CO2 (elevated pCO2), was supplied with either 0·05 mol m–3 phosphorus and 0·2 mol m–3 nitrogen, or 0·2 mol m–3 phosphorus and 1·0 mol m–3 nitrogen. Gas exchange measurements and determination of total non-structural carbohydrate (TNC), nitrogen and phosphorus contents revealed that parent plant leaf blade tissues experienced acclimatory loss of photosynthetic capacity after long-term growth at elevated pCO2 (particularly so when nutrient availability was low); there were associated reductions in photosynthetic nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiencies (PNUE and PPUE). In addition, decreased PNUE and PPUE were exhibited by plantlets grown at elevated pCO2 with low nutrient availability. Decreased reproductive dry matter in this treatment also resulted from a lack of reproductive initiation in daughter tillers, and altered phenology. Pseudoviviparous P. alpina is likely to be at a disadvantage in both vegetative and reproductive phases at predicted future elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, particularly where nutrients are scarce and when in competition with species experiencing less acclimatory loss of photosynthetic capacity.