, Volume 160, Issue 2, pp 143-150

Transpiration-induced changes in the photosynthetic capacity of leaves

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High transpiration rates were found to affect the photosynthetic capacity of Xanthium strumarium L. leaves in a manner analagous to that of low soil water potential. The effect was also looked for and found in Gossypium hirsutum L., Agathis robusta (C. Moore ex Muell.) Bailey, Eucalyptus microcarpa Maiden, Larrea divaricata Cav., the wilty flacca tomato mutant (Lycopersicon esculentum (L.) Mill.) and Scrophularia desertorum (Munz) Shaw. Two methods were used to distinguish between effects on stomatal conductance, which can lower assimilation by reducing CO2 availability, and effects on the photosynthetic capacity of the mesophyll. First, the response of assimilation to intercellular CO2 pressure (C i) was compared under conditions of high and low transpiration. Second, in addition to estimating C i using the usual Ohm's law analogy, C i was measured directly using the closed-loop technique of T.D. Sharkey, K. Imai, G.D. Farquhar and I.R. Cowan (1982, Plant Physiol, 60, 657–659). Transpiration stress responses of Xanthium strumarium were compared with soil drought effects. Both stresses reduced photosynthesis at high C i but not at low C i; transpiration stress increased the quantum requirement of photosynthesis. Transpiration stress could be induced in small sections of leaves. Total transpiration from the plant did not influence the photosynthetic capacity of a leaf kept under constant conditions, indicating that water deficits develop over small areas within the leaf. The effect of high transpiration on photosynthesis was reversed approximately half-way by returning the plants to low-transpiration conditions. This reversal occurred as fast as measurements could be made (5 min), but little further recovery was observed in subsequent hours.

This research was begun while the author was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra