Effect of maternal CO2 concentration on seed quality and offspring performance in a semi-arid Mediterranean community

Atmospheric CO2 enrichment has a direct effect on plants (elevated CO2 effects), beside its indirect influence through global warming. Elevated CO2 often increases photosynthesis and decreases water use, but has variable impacts on growth and reproduction. While numerous native and agricultural species have been tested for responses of seed production to elevated CO2, information on seed quality and particularly on growth of a second generation is very sparse.


In this study, maternal effects on seeds from annual plants of the northern Negev are tested under uniform ambient conditions. Seeds have been produced at three different CO2 concentrations (between pre-industrial and future CO2), and seed quality as well as growth and development of offspring originating from these seeds were investigated. Results show that elevated CO2 has an inter-generational influence on plants, but this effect differs among species and functional plant groups. Notably, severity of a fungal disease in the largest species of this annual community was affected by maternal CO2 treatments in some years. Thus, biodiversity of plant communities could be strongly altered by rising CO2 through maternal effects.


Grünzweig JM, Dumbur R. 2012. Seed traits, seed-reserve utilization and offspring performance across pre-industrial to future CO2 concentrations in a Mediterranean community. Oikos; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19770.x (in press).

Grünzweig JM. 2011. Potential maternal effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on development and disease severity in a Mediterranean legume. Frontiers in Plant Science 2, 30; doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00030.