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Three maize genotypes were grown in controlled environment chambers with ambient (38 Pa) or elevated (70 Pa) carbon dioxide and water stress treatments were initiated 17 days after sowing. Shoot dry weight of the drought tolerant hybrid in both CO2 treatments was 44 to 73% less than that of the intermediate and sensitive hybrids when seedlings were well watered. Decreased shoot and root dry weights of the tolerant maize hybrid due to drought were about one-half that of the other two hybrids. Genotypic differences were observed in decreases of soil water content, leaf water potential, net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance in response to drought. Eleven of 19 amino acids measured in this study increased, methionine was unchanged and alanine and aspartate decreased in response to drought in the ambient CO2 treatment. Increased amino acid levels under elevated CO2 were observed at the end of the experiment. Significant genotypic differences were detected for amino acid responses to drought. Effects of drought on all three genotypes were mitigated by CO2 enrichment. Decreased shoot growth likely improved the stress tolerance of a highly drought resistant maize hybrid by reducing moisture loss, improving soil moisture content and increasing leaf water potential.
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