Fitting photosynthetic carbon dioxide response curves for C3 leaves


T. D. Sharkey. Fax: +1 608 262 7509; e-mail:


Photosynthetic responses to carbon dioxide concentration can provide data on a number of important parameters related to leaf physiology. Methods for fitting a model to such data are briefly described. The method will fit the following parameters: Vcmax, J, TPU, Rd and gm[maximum carboxylation rate allowed by ribulose 1·5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), rate of photosynthetic electron transport (based on NADPH requirement), triose phosphate use, day respiration and mesophyll conductance, respectively]. The method requires at least five data pairs of net CO2 assimilation (A) and [CO2] in the intercellular airspaces of the leaf (Ci) and requires users to indicate the presumed limiting factor. The output is (1) calculated CO2 partial pressure at the sites of carboxylation, Cc, (2) values for the five parameters at the measurement temperature and (3) values adjusted to 25 °C to facilitate comparisons. Fitting this model is a way of exploring leaf level photosynthesis. However, interpreting leaf level photosynthesis in terms of underlying biochemistry and biophysics is subject to assumptions that hold to a greater or lesser degree, a major assumption being that all parts of the leaf are behaving in the same way at each instant.