pp 1–24 | Cite as

Elevated carbon dioxide decreases the adverse effects of higher temperature and drought stress by mitigating oxidative stress and improving water status in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Mohammad I. Abo Gamar
  • Anna Kisiala
  • R. J. Neil Emery
  • Edward C. Yeung
  • Sophia L. Stone
  • Mirwais M. QaderiEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

This study revealed that elevated carbon dioxide increases Arabidopsis tolerance to higher temperature and drought stress by mitigating oxidative stress and improving water status of plants.


Few studies have considered multiple aspects of plant responses to key components of global climate change, including higher temperature, elevated carbon dioxide (ECO2), and drought. Hence, their individual and combinatorial effects on plants need to be investigated in the context of understanding climate change impact on plant growth and development. We investigated the interactive effects of temperature, CO2, watering regime, and genotype on Arabidopsis thaliana (WT and ABA-insensitive mutant, abi1-1). Plants were grown in controlled-environment growth chambers under two temperature regimes (22/18 °C and 28/24 °C, 16 h light/8 h dark), two CO2 concentrations (400 and 700 μmol mol−1), and two watering regimes (well-watered and water-stressed) for 18 days. Plant growth, anatomical, physiological, molecular, and hormonal responses were determined. Our study provided valuable information about plant responses to the interactive effects of multiple environmental factors. We showed that drought and ECO2 had larger effects on plants than higher temperatures. ECO2 alleviated the detrimental effects of temperature and drought by mitigating oxidative stress and plant water status, and this positive effect was consistent across multiple response levels. The WT plants performed better than the abi1-1 plants; the former had higher rosette diameter, total dry mass, leaf and soil water potential, leaf moisture, proline, ethylene, trans-zeatin, isopentyladenine, and cis-zeatin riboside than the latter. The water-stressed plants of both genotypes accumulated more abscisic acid (ABA) than the well-watered plants; however, higher temperatures decreased the ability of WT plants to produce ABA in response to drought. We conclude that drought strongly, while higher temperature to a lesser extent, affects Arabidopsis seedlings, and ECO2 reduces the adverse effects of these stressors more efficiently in the WT plants than in the abi1-1 plants. Findings from this study can be extrapolated to other plant species that share similar characteristics and/or family with Arabidopsis.


ABA-responsive genes Abi1-1 mutant Abiotic stress Climate change Phytohormones Plant growth and development 



Ambient CO2






Elevated CO2




Reactive oxygen species



This study was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada through a Discovery grant and by Mount Saint Vincent University through an Internal Research grant to MMQ. A graduate scholarship from Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan to MIAG is greatly acknowledged. We appreciate useful comments on the manuscript from two anonymous referees.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Life Science CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Department of BiologyMount Saint Vincent UniversityHalifaxCanada

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