Photosynthetic electron transport drives the carbon reduction cycle, the carbon oxidation cycle, and any alternative electron sinks such as nitrogen reduction. A chlorophyll fluorescence— based method allows estimation of the total electron transport rate while a gas-exchange-based method can provide estimates of the electron transport needed for the carbon reduction cycle and, if the CO2 partial pressure inside the chloroplast is accurately known, for the carbon oxidation cycle. The gas-exchange method cannot provide estimates of alternative electron sinks. Photosynthetic electron transport in flag leaves of wheat was estimated by the fluorescence method and gasexchange method to determine the possible magnitude of alternative electron sinks. Under non-photorespiratory conditions the two measures of electron transport were the same, ruling out substantial alternative electron sinks. Under photorespiratory conditions the fluorescence-based electron transport rate could be accounted for by the carbon reduction and carbon oxidation cycle only if we assumed the CO2 partial pressure inside the chloroplasts to be lower than that in the intercellular spaces of the leaves. To further test for the presence of alternative electron sinks, carbon metabolism was inhibited by feeding glyceraldehyde. As carbon metabolism was inhibited, the electron transport was inhibited to the same degree. A small residual rate of electron transport was measured when carbon metabolism was completely inhibited which we take to be the maximum capacity of alternative electron sinks. Since the alternative sinks were small enough to ignore, the comparison of fluorescence and gas-exchange based methods for measuring the rate of electron transport could be used to estimate the mesophyll conductance to CO2 diffusion. The mesophyll conductance estimated this way fell as wheat flag leaves senesced. The age-related decline in photosynthesis may be attributed in part to the reduction of mesophyll conductance to CO2 diffusion and in part to the estimated decline of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase amount.
electron transport rate mesophyll conductance to CO2 diffusion photosynthesis photorespiration
leaf mesophyll conductance to CO2
electron transport rate driving the photosynthetic carbon reduction and oxidation cycles