Yield, growth and grain nitrogen response to elevated CO2 of five field pea (Pisum sativum L.) cultivars in a low rainfall environment

Maryse Bourgault, Jason Brand, Michael Tausz, Glenn J. Fitzgerald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing from about 280 ppm to 400 ppm from the pre-industrial era until now. If intraspecific variability in the response to elevated CO2 (e[CO2]) can be found, then it should be possible to select for greater responsiveness in crop breeding programs. Our experiment aimed to determine the effects of e[CO2] on the yield, biomass, leaf and grain nitrogen content of a range of field pea (Pisum sativum L.) cultivars subjected to rainfed and supplemental irrigation conditions. Plants were grown under Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) at the Australian Grains FACE facility in Horsham, Victoria, Australia under e[CO2] (550 ppm) or at ambient CO2 (390–400 ppm) under rainfed conditions and supplemental irrigation during three seasons, 2010–2012. Yields were significantly increased by 26% under e[CO2] due to an increase in the number of pods per area. Grain size, the number of grains per pod and the harvest index remained unaffected by e[CO2]. Grain nitrogen concentration ([N]) was slightly, but significantly, decreased by e[CO2], but this was not consistent across cultivars under all water regimes. The dual purpose cultivar PBA Hayman consistently maintained grain [N] in response to e[CO2] while the response in grain [N] in the cultivars Sturt and PBA Twilight depended on the irrigation treatment. While there was no evidence for consistent differences in seed yield response to e[CO2] for the chosen cultivars, understanding the mechanisms for why some cultivars are able to maintain [N] under e[CO2] would allow breeding programs to develop varieties resistant to decreases in [N] under e[CO2].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalField Crops Research
Early online date27 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Elevated CO
  • Genotypic variability
  • Grain protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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