Methodological advances: using greenhouses to simulate climate change scenarios
Human activities are increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature. Related to this global warming, periods of low water availability are also expected to increase. Thus, CO2 concentration, temperature and water availability are three of the main factors related to climate change that potentially may influence crops and ecosystems. In this report, we describe the use of growth chamber - greenhouses (GCG) and temperature gradient greenhouses (TGG) to simulate climate change scenarios and to investigate possible plant responses. In the GCG, CO2 concentration, temperature and water availability are set to act simultaneously, enabling comparison of a current situation with a future one. Other characteristics of the GCG are a relative large space of work, fine control of the relative humidity, plant fertirrigation and the possibility of light supplementation, within the photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) region and/or with ultraviolet-B (UV-B) light. In the TGG, the three above-mentioned factors can act independently or in interaction, enabling more mechanistic studies aimed to elucidate the limiting factor(s) responsible for a given plant response. Examples of experiments, including some aimed to study photosynthetic acclimation, a phenomenon that leads to decreased photosynthetic capacity under long-term exposures to elevated CO2, using GCG and TGG are reported.