The concentration changes of mineral elements in plants at different CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) and nitrogen (N) supplies and the mechanisms which control such changes are not clear.
Hydroponic trials on cucumber plants with three [CO2] (400, 625, and 1200 μmol mol−1) and five N supply levels (2, 4, 7, 14, and 21 mmol L−1) were conducted. When plants were in high N supply, the increase in total biomass by elevated [CO2] was 51.7% and 70.1% at the seedling and initial fruiting stages, respectively.
An increase in net photosynthetic rate (Pn) by more than 60%, a decrease in stomatal conductance (Gs) by 21.2–27.7%, and a decrease in transpiration rate (Tr) by 22.9–31.9% under elevated [CO2] were also observed. High N supplies could further improve the Pn and offset the decrease of Gs and Tr by elevated [CO2].
According to the mineral concentrations and the correlation results, researchers concluded the main factors affecting these changes. The dilution effect was the main factor driving the reduction of all mineral elements, whereas Tr also had a great impact on the decrease of [N], [K], [Ca], and [Mg] except [P]. In addition, the demand changes of N, Ca, and Mg influenced the corresponding element concentrations in cucumber plants.