, Volume 104-105, Issue 1, pp 33-45

Analysing the responses of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation to long-term elevation of atmospheric CO2 concentration

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Understanding how photosynthetic capacity acclimatises when plants are grown in an atmosphere of rising CO2 concentrations will be vital to the development of mechanistic models of the response of plant productivity to global environmental change. A limitation to the study of acclimatisation is the small amount of material that may be destructively harvested from long-term studies of the effects of elevation of CO2 concentration. Technological developments in the measurement of gas exchange, fluorescence and absorption spectroscopy, coupled with theoretical developments in the interpretation of measured values now allow detailed analyses of limitations to photosynthesisin vivo. The use of leaf chambers with Ulbricht integrating spheres allows separation of change in the maximum efficiency of energy transduction in the assimilation of CO2 from changes in tissue absorptance. Analysis of the response of CO2 assimilation to intercellular CO2 concentration allows quantitative determination of the limitation imposed by stomata, carboxylation efficiency, and the rate of regeneration of ribulose 1:5 bisphosphate. Chlorophyll fluorescence provides a rapid method for detecting photoinhibition in heterogeneously illuminated leaves within canopies in the field. Modulated fluorescence and absorption spectroscopy allow parallel measurements of the efficiency of light utilisation in electron transport through photosystems I and IIin situ.