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Mass-spectrometric evidence for the double-carboxylation pathway of malate synthesis by Crassulacean acid metabolism plants in light


Phyllodia of the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plant Kalanchoë tubiflora were allowed to fix 13CO2 in light and darkness during phase IV of the diurnal CAM cycle, and during prolongation of the regular light period. After 13CO2 fixation in darkness, only singly labelled [13C]malate molecules were found. Fixation of 13CO2 under illumination, however, produced singly labelled malate as well as malate molecules which carried label in two, three or four carbon atoms. When the irradiance during 13CO2 fixation was increased, the proportion of singly labelled malate decreased in favour of plurally labelled malate. The irradiance, however, did not change either the ratio of labelled to unlabelled malate molecules found in the tissue after the 13CO2 application, or the magnitude of malate accumulation during the treatment with label. The ability of the tissue to store malate and the labelling pattern changed throughout the duration of the prolonged light period. The results indicate that malate synthesis by CAM plants in light can proceed via a pathway containing two carboxylation steps, namely ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate-carboxylase/oxygenase (EC and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (EC which operate in series and share common intermediates. It can be concluded that, in light, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase can also synthesize malate independently of the proceeding carboxylation step by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase.

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Crassulacean acid metabolism




phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (EC


ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (EC




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Correspondence to M. Kluge.

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Ritz, D., Kluge, M. & Veith, H.J. Mass-spectrometric evidence for the double-carboxylation pathway of malate synthesis by Crassulacean acid metabolism plants in light. Planta 167, 284–291 (1986).

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Key words

  • Crassulacean acid metabolism
  • Carboxylation pathway (double)
  • Kalanchoë
  • Light and malate synthesis
  • Malate synthesis