pp 1–10 | Cite as

CO2 and nitrogen interaction alters root anatomy, morphology, nitrogen partitioning and photosynthetic acclimation of tomato plants

  • Itay CohenEmail author
  • Moshe Halpern
  • Uri Yermiyahu
  • Asher Bar-Tal
  • Tanya Gendler
  • Shimon Rachmilevitch
Original Article


Main conclusion

Nitrogen and CO2 supply interactively regulate whole plant nitrogen partitioning and root anatomical and morphological development in tomato plants.


Nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) are the key elements in plant growth and constitute the majority of plant dry matter. Growing at CO2 enrichment has the potential to stimulate the growth of C3 plants, however, growth is often limited by N availability. Thus, the interactive effects of CO2 under different N fertilization rates can affect growth, acclimation to elevated CO2, and yield. However, the majority of research in this field has focused on shoot traits, while neglecting plants’ hidden half—the roots. We hypothesize that elevated CO2 and low N effects on transpiration will interactively affect root vascular development and plant N partitioning. Here we studied the effects of elevated CO2 and N concentrations on greenhouse-grown tomato plants, a C3 crop. Our main objective was to determine in what manner the N fertilization rate and elevated CO2 affected root development and nitrogen partitioning among plant organs. Our results indicate that N interacting with the CO2 level affects the development of the root system in terms of the length, anatomy, and partitioning of the N concentration between the roots and shoot. Both CO2 and N concentrations were found to affect xylem size in an opposite manner, elevated CO2 found to repressed, whereas ample N stimulated xylem development. We found that under limiting N and eCO2, the N% increase in the root, while it decreased in the shoot. Under eCO2, the root system size increased with a coordinated decrease in root xylem area. We suggest that tomato root response to elevated CO2 depends on N fertilization rates, and that a decrease in xylem size is a possible underlying response that limits nitrogen allocation from the root into the shoot. Additionally, the greater abundance of root amino acids suggests increased root nitrogen metabolism at eCO2 conditions with ample N.


Climate change CO2 Gas exchange Metabolites Nitrogen Root Tomato Xylem 



Ambient CO2


Elevated CO2


Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase



We would like to thank Liron Summerfield for her technical support and encouragement. We would also like to thank David Granot’s ARO lab for their assistance with the Rubisco analysis.


This study was partially supported by the Frances and Elias Margolin Trust and by the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Eugene Kandel Knowledge Centers) as part of the Root of the Matter—The Root Zone Knowledge Center for Leveraging Modern Agriculture.

Supplementary material

425_2019_3232_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Itay Cohen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Moshe Halpern
    • 2
    • 3
  • Uri Yermiyahu
    • 2
  • Asher Bar-Tal
    • 4
  • Tanya Gendler
    • 1
  • Shimon Rachmilevitch
    • 1
  1. 1.The French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, The Blaustein Institutes for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeershebaIsrael
  2. 2.Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research CenterRishon LezionIsrael
  3. 3.The Hebrew University of JerusalemRehovotIsrael
  4. 4.Department of Soil Chemistry, Plant Nutrition and Microbiology, Institute of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences, Volcani CenterAgricultural Research Organization (ARO)Rishon LezionIsrael

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