, Volume 169, Issue 2, pp 341–352

Effects of low atmospheric CO2 and elevated temperature during growth on the gas exchange responses of C3, C3–C4 intermediate, and C4 species from three evolutionary lineages of C4 photosynthesis

Physiological ecology - Original research

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-011-2201-z

Cite this article as:
Vogan, P.J. & Sage, R.F. Oecologia (2012) 169: 341. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2201-z


This study evaluates acclimation of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance in three evolutionary lineages of C3, C3–C4 intermediate, and C4 species grown in the low CO2 and hot conditions proposed to favo r the evolution of C4 photosynthesis. Closely related C3, C3–C4, and C4 species in the genera Flaveria, Heliotropium, and Alternanthera were grown near 380 and 180 μmol CO2 mol−1 air and day/night temperatures of 37/29°C. Growth CO2 had no effect on photosynthetic capacity or nitrogen allocation to Rubisco and electron transport in any of the species. There was also no effect of growth CO2 on photosynthetic and stomatal responses to intercellular CO2 concentration. These results demonstrate little ability to acclimate to low CO2 growth conditions in closely related C3 and C3–C4 species, indicating that, during past episodes of low CO2, individual C3 plants had little ability to adjust their photosynthetic physiology to compensate for carbon starvation. This deficiency could have favored selection for more efficient modes of carbon assimilation, such as C3–C4 intermediacy. The C3–C4 species had approximately 50% greater rates of net CO2 assimilation than the C3 species when measured at the growth conditions of 180 μmol mol−1 and 37°C, demonstrating the superiority of the C3–C4 pathway in low atmospheric CO2 and hot climates of recent geological time.


C4 evolutionPhotosynthetic CO2 acclimationStomatal acclimationTemperature response

Supplementary material

442_2011_2201_MOESM1_ESM.doc (376 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 376 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada