Author(s): Andr MJ
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Abstract Photosynthetic assimilation of CO2 in plants results in the balance between the photochemical energy developed by light in chloroplasts, and the consumption of that energy by the oxygenation processes, mainly the photorespiration in C3 plants. The analysis of classical biological models shows the difficulties to bring to fore the oxygenation rate due to the photorespiration pathway. As for other parameters, the most important key point is the estimation of the electron transport rate (ETR or J), i.e. the flux of biochemical energy, which is shared between the reductive and oxidative cycles of carbon. The only reliable method to quantify the linear electron flux responsible for the production of reductive energy is to directly measure the O2 evolution by (18)O2 labelling and mass spectrometry. The hypothesis that the respective rates of reductive and oxidative cycles of carbon are only determined by the kinetic parameters of Rubisco, the respective concentrations of CO2 and O2 at the Rubisco site and the available electron transport rate, ultimately leads to propose new expressions of biochemical model equations. The modelling of (18)O2 and (16)O2 unidirectional fluxes in plants shows that a simple model can fit the photosynthetic and photorespiration exchanges for a wide range of environmental conditions. Its originality is to express the carboxylation and the oxygenation as a function of external gas concentrations, by the definition of a plant specificity factor Sp that mimics the internal reactions of Rubisco in plants. The difference between the specificity factors of plant (Sp) and of Rubisco (Sr) is directly related to the conductance values to CO2 transfer between the atmosphere and the Rubisco site. This clearly illustrates that the values and the variation of conductance are much more important, in higher C3 plants, than the small variations of the Rubisco specificity factor. The simple model systematically expresses the reciprocal variations of carboxylation and oxygenation exchanges illustrated by a "mirror effect". It explains the protective sink effect of photorespiration, e.g. during water stress. The importance of the CO2 compensation point, in classical models, is reduced at the benefit of the crossing points Cx and Ox, concentration values where carboxylation and oxygenation are equal or where the gross O2 uptake is half of the gross O2 evolution. This concept is useful to illustrate the feedback effects of photorespiration in the atmosphere regulation. The constancy of Sp and of Cx for a great variation of P under several irradiance levels shows that the regulation of the conductance maintains constant the internal CO2 and the ratio of photorespiration to photosynthesis (PR/P). The maintenance of the ratio PR/P, in conditions of which PR could be reduced and the carboxylation increased, reinforces the hypothesis of a positive role of photorespiration and its involvement in the plant-atmosphere co-evolution. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Biosystems
and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography