The Impact of Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Low to Adequate Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density on Growth, Physiology and Nutrient Use Efficiency of Juvenile Cacao Genotypes

By Virupax C. Baligar et al.


Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) was grown as an understory tree in agroforestry systems where it received inadequate to adequate levels of photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD). As atmospheric carbon dioxide steadily increased, it was unclear what impact this would have on cacao growth and development at low PPFD. This research evaluated the effects of ambient and elevated levels carbon dioxide under inadequate to adequate levels of PPFD on growth, physiological and nutrient use efficiency traits of seven genetically contrasting juvenile cacao genotypes. Growth parameters (total and root dry weight, root length, stem height, leaf area, relative growth rate and net assimilation rates increased, and specific leaf area decreased significantly in response to increasing carbon dioxide and PPFD. Increasing carbon dioxide and PPFD levels significantly increased net
photosynthesis and water-use efficiency traits but significantly reduced stomatal conductance and transpiration. With few exceptions, increasing carbon dioxide and PPFD reduced macro–micro nutrient concentrations but increased uptake, influx, transport and nutrient use efficiency in all cacao genotypes. Irrespective of levels of carbon dioxide and PPFD, intraspecific differences were observed for growth, physiology and nutrient use efficiency of cacao genotypes.

This article appeared on the Agronomy website at