Application of transgenic plants in understanding responses to atmospheric change


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Acclimation of plants to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is a well described phenomenon. It is characterized by an increase in leaf carbohydrates and a degradation of ribulose 1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase protein (Rubisco) leading in the long term to a lower rate of CO2 assimilation than expected from the kinetic constants of Rubisco. This article summarizes studies with transgenic plants grown in elevated pCO2 which are modified in their capacity of CO2 fixation, of sucrose and starch synthesis, of triosephosphate and sucrose transport and of sink metabolism of sucrose. These studies show that a feedback accumulation of carbohydrates in leaves play only a minor role in acclimation, because leaf starch synthesis functions as an efficient buffer for photoassimilates. There is some evidence that in elevated pCO2, plants grow faster and senescence is induced earlier.