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Plants transformed by CO2 concentration

Plants have transformed over the past half-century to the increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and continue to do so.

This is the conclusion of biologists and environmental scientists from Utrecht University and the University of Indiana in the United States.

The results of the joint research were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

An increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) leads to changes within a plant cell that trigger the closing of the stomata—the breathing or gas exchange pores in the leaf surface causing less evaporation from plants.

The decreasing evaporation could affect the water cycle and climate. For example, a decrease in evaporation in dense regions can lead to a strong increase in temperature at the surface than previously thought according to the researchers.

The researchers examined a large number of leaves of various plants over the past 150 years that grew in Florida.

They examined the number and size of leave pores. These together determine the permeability of the leaves for CO2 and water vapor.