, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 115-121

Inorganic carbon assimilation in the Isoetids, Isoetes lacustris L. and Lobelia dortmanna L.

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Summary

The inorganic carbon fixation patterns of Isoetes lacustris and Lobelia dortmanna from an oligotrophic Scottish loch have been examined by following titratable acidity changes in plant sap and light/dark 14CO2 incorporation by roots and shoots. The diurnal pattern of titratable acidity changes in I. lacustris suggests crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) while the lack of any change in titratable acidity in L. dortmanna suggests C3 metabolism. Of the carbon fixed by L. dortmanna, 99.9% was taken up through the roots and fixation occurred primarily during the day. In Isoetes, CO2 was taken up by both roots and shoots and during both day and night. Regardless of the site of CO2 uptake, fixation occurred only in the shoots of both plants. Analysis of carbon isotope ratios of plant organic material was used to further investigate the photosynthetic mechanisms of these Isoetids. Considering the absence of a nighttime peak in titratable acidity in L. dortmanna, the Δ13C (Δ=δ13C plant-δ13C source) value of the shoots of L. dortmanna (-14.2‰) is indicative of C3 photosynthesis limited by the rate of CO2 diffusion. The less negative Δ of I. lacustris (-6.0‰) is consistent with both dark acidification of CAM and CO2 limited C3 photosynthesis. This is in contrast to the terrestrial Isoetes durieui which is shown to have a Δ value which is similar to a terrestrial C3 plant. The carbon fixation patterns of these Isoetids suggest that the CO2 concentration in the loch may be growth limiting, and that root uptake and/or dark acidification are means of optimising CO2 supply. However, in view of the relatively high levels of CO2 in sediment and bulk water, it is suggested that low levels of nutrients may also limit growth in these plants.