A mechanistic evaluation of photosynthetic acclimation at elevated CO2


Alistair Rogers, tel + 1/631 344 2948, fax + 1/631 344 7303, e-mail arogers@bnl.gov


Plants grown at elevated pCO2 often fail to sustain the initial stimulation of net CO2 uptake rate (A). This reduced, acclimated, stimulation of A often occurs concomitantly with a reduction in the maximum carboxylation velocity (Vc,max) of Rubisco. To investigate this relationship we used the Farquhar model of C3 photosynthesis to predict the minimum Vc,max capable of supporting the acclimated stimulation in A observed at elevated pCO2. For a wide range of species grown at elevated pCO2 under contrasting conditions we found a strong correlation between observed and predicted values of Vc,max. This exercise mechanistically and quantitatively demonstrated that the observed acclimated stimulation of A and the simultaneous decrease in Vc,max observed at elevated pCO2 is mechanistically consistent. With the exception of plants grown at a high elevated pCO2 (> 90 Pa), which show evidence of an excess investment in Rubisco, the failure to maintain the initial stimulation of A is almost entirely attributable to the decrease in Vc,max and investment in Rubisco is coupled to requirements.