Altered leaf and root emissions from onion (Allium cepa L.) grown under elevated CO2 conditions

Richard Jasoni, Chad Kane, Cary Green, Ellen Peffley, David Tissue, Leslie Thompson, Paxton Payton, Paul W. Paré

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) have been hypothesized to increase photosynthesis rates and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions; however, field measurements from a select group of conifer and angiosperm trees have shown that VOC emissions are in fact not affected or reduced by elevated CO2 levels. To broaden the understanding of how different plant species respond to elevated atmospheric [CO2], air-flow-through, glass chambers were designed and utilized to measure photosynthesis and emissions from onion (Allium cepa cv. 'Purplette') under controlled environmental conditions. Here we report on VOC release and root exudation while monitoring photosynthesis from whole plants grown under ambient (400 μmol mol-1) and elevated (1000 μmol mol-1) [CO2]. A 22% increase in photosynthesis in the elevated CO 2 plants and a 17-fold and 38-fold increase in the VOC hydrocarbons 2-undecanone and 2-tridecanone, respectively, were observed in 30-day-old onion seedlings compared to plants grown under ambient CO2 conditions. In contrast TOC from root exudates decreased significantly with elevated CO 2 conditions. Plants harvested at 30 days had on average over 40% greater biomass when grown at elevated CO2 levels. The demonstration that VOC emissions increase in plants grown under elevated [CO2] and higher photosynthesis rates points to a fundamental difference in how carbon partitioning alters in herbaceous species such as onion versus the previously studied tree species in response to elevated concentration of atmospheric CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • 2-Tridecanone
  • 2-Undecanone
  • Allium cepa L.
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methyl ketone
  • Onion


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