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Crassulacean acid metabolism enhances underwater photosynthesis and diminishes photorespiration in the aquatic plant Isoetes australis

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2011
Authors:O. Pedersen, Rich, S. M., Pulido, C., Cawthray, G. R., Colmer, T. D.
Journal:New Phytologist
Pagination:332 - 339
Date Published:2011///
Keywords:Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), Isoetids, Leaf malate, photorespiration, submergence tolerance, underwater photosynthesis, Vernal pool, Wetland plant

Underwater photosynthesis by aquatic plants is often limited by low availability of CO 2, and photorespiration can be high. Some aquatic plants utilize crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis. The benefits of CAM for increased underwater photosynthesis and suppression of photorespiration were evaluated for Isoetes australis, a submerged plant that inhabits shallow temporary rock pools. Leaves high or low in malate were evaluated for underwater net photosynthesis and apparent photorespiration at a range of CO 2 and O 2 concentrations. CAM activity was indicated by 9.7-fold higher leaf malate at dawn, compared with at dusk, and also by changes in the titratable acidity (μmol H + equivalents) of leaves. Leaves high in malate showed not only higher underwater net photosynthesis at low external CO 2 concentrations but also lower apparent photorespiration. Suppression by CAM of apparent photorespiration was evident at a range of O 2 concentrations, including values below air equilibrium. At a high O 2 concentration of 2.2-fold the atmospheric equilibrium concentration, net photosynthesis was reduced substantially and, although it remained positive in leaves containing high malate concentrations, it became negative in those low in malate. CAM in aquatic plants enables higher rates of underwater net photosynthesis over large O 2 and CO 2 concentration ranges in floodwaters, via increased CO 2 fixation and suppression of photorespiration. © 2010 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2010 New Phytologist Trust.

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