• C3 photosynthesis;
  • electron transport;
  • modelling;
  • quantum yield


The widely used steady-state model of Farquhar et al. (Planta 149: 78–90, 1980) for C3 photosynthesis was developed on the basis of linear whole-chain (non-cyclic) electron transport. In this model, calculation of the RuBP-regeneration limited CO2-assimilation rate depends on whether it is insufficient ATP or NADPH that causes electron transport limitation. A new, generalized equation that allows co-limitation of NADPH and ATP on electron transport is presented herein. The model is based on the assumption that other thylakoid pathways (the Q-cycle, cyclic photophosphorylation, and pseudocyclic electron transport) interplay with the linear chain to co-contribute to a balanced production of NADPH and ATP as required by stromal metabolism. The original model assuming linear electron transport limited either by NADPH or by ATP, predicts quantum yields for CO2 uptake that represent the highest and the lowest values, respectively, of the range given by the new equation. The applicability of the new equation is illustrated for a number of C3 crop species, by curve fitting to gas exchange data in the literature. In comparison with the original model, the new model enables analysis of photosynthetic regulation via the electron transport pathways in response to environmental stresses.