Photosynthetic rates, the activities of key enzymes associated with the C4 cycle and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBPCase), and the levels of metabolites involved in the C4 cycle were compared between the two phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PCK) type C4 species Spartina anglica, which is cold-tolerant, and Zoysia japonica, which is cold-sensitive, during exposure to low temperature. Plants of both species grown outside in summer were placed in a growth chamber at 27/20 °C day/night temperatures. After 1 week, plants were exposed to 20/17 °C for 1 week and then to 10/7 °C for 2 weeks. Photosynthetic rates in Z. japonica decreased progressively to about 25% during the chilling treatments. In contrast, S. anglica exhibited a 43% increase in photosynthetic rates after exposure to 20 °C for 1 week, which remained relatively constant thereafter. Consistent with these observations, most of the C4 enzymes and RuBPCase in Z. japonica declined. Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) and PCK activities declined particularly drastically during the treatments. However, the activities of these enzymes in S. anglica showed either a slight increase or decrease upon a mild cold treatment, and remained relatively constant during further chilling treatments. There was a sharp decline in phosphoenolpyruvate in Z. japonica after exposure to 10 °C. On the other hand, metabolite levels in S. anglica were largely unaffected by the chilling treatments. These results suggest that the drastic declines of both PEPC and PCK activities may be important limiting factors responsible for cold sensitivity in C4 photosynthesis of Z. japonica.
pyruvate, orthophosphate dikinase