, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 401-412

Optimal acclimation of the C3 photosynthetic system under enhanced CO2

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A range of studies of C3 plants have shown that there is a change in both the carbon flux and the pattern of nitrogen allocation when plants are grown under enhanced CO2. This paper examines evidence that allocation of nitrogen both to and within the photosynthetic system is optimised with respect to the carbon flux. A model is developed which predicts the optimal relative allocation of nitrogen to key enzymes of the photosynthetic system as a function of CO2 concentration. It is shown that evidence from flux control analysis is broadly consistent with this model, although at high nitrogen and under certain conditions at low nitrogen experimental data are not consistent with the model. Acclimation to enhanced CO2 is also assessed in terms of resource allocation between photosynthate sources and sinks. A means of assessing the optimisation of this source-sink allocation is proposed, and several studies are examined within this framework. It is concluded that C3 plants probably possess the genetic feedback mechanisms required to efficiently ‘smooth out” any imbalance within the photosynthetic system caused by a rise in atmospheric CO2.