Short-term thermal acclimation of dark respiration is greater in non-photosynthetic than in photosynthetic tissues

Nicholas G. Smith, Guoyong Li, Jeffrey S. Dukes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Thermal acclimation of plant respiration is highly relevant to climate projections; when included in models, it reduces the future rate of atmospheric CO2 rise. Although all living plant tissues respire, few studies have examined differences in acclimation among tissues, and leaf responses have received greater attention than stems and roots. Here, we examine the short-term temperature acclimation of leaf, stem and root respiration within individuals of eight disparate species acclimated to five temperatures, ranging from 15 to 35 °C. To assess acclimation, we measured instantaneous tissue temperature response curves (14-50 °C) on each individual following a 7-day acclimation period. In leaves and photosynthetic stems, the acclimation temperature had little effect on the instantaneous tissue temperature response of respiration, indicating little to no thermal acclimation in these tissues. However, respiration did acclimate in non-photosynthetic tissues; respiratory rates measured at the acclimation temperature were similar across the different acclimation temperatures. Respiratory demand of photosynthetic tissue increased with acclimation temperature as a result of increased photosynthetic demands, resulting in rates measured at the acclimation temperature that increased with increasing acclimation temperature. In non-photosynthetic tissue, the homeostatic response of respiration suggests that acclimation temperature had little influence on respiratory demand. Our results indicate that respiratory temperature acclimation differs by tissue type and that this difference is the consequence of the coupling between photosynthesis and respiration in photosynthetic, but not non-photosynthetic tissue. These insights provide an avenue for improving the representation of respiratory temperature acclimation in large-scale models.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberplz064
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 8 2019


  • Carbon cycling
  • R
  • climate change
  • respiratory demand
  • terrestrial biosphere models
  • warming


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