Carboxydismutase Activity in Shade-adapted and Sun-adapted Species of Higher Plants



The activity of the photosynthetic enzyme carboxydismutase (ribulose-l,5-diphosphate carboxylase) was measured in leaf extracts of a number of higher plant species from habitats with greatly contrasting light intensities. Plants occupying sunny habitats and capable of light saturated rates of photosynthesis several times higher than those growing in the deep shade of redwood forests also have a considerably higher carboxydismutase activity. Thus, when expressed on the basis of total chlorophyll or even fresh weight, the enzyme activity is several times greater among the sun than among the shade species.

The comparatively low content of soluble protein in the shade plants indicates that their content of enzymes other than carboxydismutase also is low. Nevertheless, the activity of carboxydismutase even on the basis of soluble protein appears to be significantly higher in the sun than in the shade species.

It is concluded that low carboxydismutase activity probably is one of the factors that limit the capacity for light saturated photosynthesis in the shade plants.