Effects of elevated CO2 on the vasculature and phenolic secondary metabolism of Plantago maritima

Matthew P. Davey, David N. Bryant, Ian Cummins, Trevor W. Ashenden, Phillip Gates, Robert Baxter, Robert Edwards

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40 Citations (Scopus)


We have examined the effect of elevated CO2 on the vasculature and phenolic secondary metabolism on clones of the maritime plant Plantago maritima (L.). Plants were exposed to either ambient (360 μmol CO2 mol-1) or elevated (600 μmol CO2 mol-1) atmospheric CO2 within a Solardome facility and harvested after 12 months' growth. Histochemical analysis of the leaves identified increases in the diameter of the minor leaf vein and associated lignified vessels in plants exposed to elevated CO2. In the roots the number of lignified root vessels and stele width were also increased, but overall the lignified vessel-wall thickness was reduced in plants exposed to elevated CO2, compared to those grown under ambient CO2. To investigate whether or not these subtle changes in lignification were associated with perturbations in phenolic metabolism, aromatic natural products were analysed by HPLC-MS after treatment with cellulase to hydrolyse the respective glycosidic conjugates. The phenylpropanoids p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid and the flavone luteolin were identified, together with the caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides, verbascoside and plantamajoside which were resistant to enzymatic digestion. Exposure to enhanced CO2 resulted in subtle changes in the levels of individual metabolites. In the foliage a one-year exposure to enhanced CO 2 resulted in an increased accumulation of caffeic acid, whilst in the roots p-coumaric acid and verbascoside were enhanced. Our results suggest that significant changes in the vasculature of P. maritima on exposure to increased CO2 are associated with only minor changes in the leaves of specific lignin-related metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2197-2204
Number of pages8
Issue number15
Early online date23 Jul 2004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004


  • Elevated atmospheric CO
  • ESI, electrospray ionisation
  • FC, field capacity
  • HPLC, high-performance liquid chromatography
  • MS, mass spectrometry
  • PDA, photodiode array
  • Plantaginaceae
  • Plantago maritima
  • ToF MS, time-of-flight mass spectrometry


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