, Volume 177, Issue 4, pp 483–491

Differential fractionation of oxygen isotopes by cyanide-resistant and cyanide-sensitive respiration in plants

  • Robert D. Guy
  • Joseph A. Berry
  • Marilyn L. Fogel
  • Thomas C. Hoering


Stable-isotope discrimination factors (D) for the uptake of oxygen during respiration by a variety of plant materials were determined by measuring 18O enrichment in a closed system. Baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae Meyer) and mitochondrial preparations from baker's yeast and from castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) endosperm, all of which are fully sensitive to cyanide, discriminated againt 18O by about 16–18‰. Whole Medicago sativa L. seedlings, isolated intact Asparagus sprengeri Regel mesophyll cells, and spadix mitochondria of Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus L.) had higher Ds of about 20–22‰. These materials all had some capacity for the cyanide-resistant alternative respiration pathway and in the presence of cyanide discriminated by about 24–26‰. When treated with salicylhydroxamic acid or tetraethylthiuram disulfide, which inhibit the alternative pathway, discrimination was about 17–19‰. Where respiration was limited by oxygen diffusion (slices of thermogenic tissues from S. foetidus and Sauromatum gutfatum Schott), fractionation was much reduced and the difference between the two respiratory pathways was masked. Isotope discrimination by soybean lipoxygenase (EC supplied with linoleic acid was much lower than by respiration. Where diffusion is not a problem, the D value obtained in the absence of inhibitor can be used to estimate the partitioning of electron transport between the two pathways at steady-state by linear interpolation between the Ds characteristic of cyanide-resistant and cyanide-sensitive respiration.

Key words

Alternative respiration Cytochrome oxidase Isotopes, stable Mitochondrion Oxidase, alternative Oxygen Respiration 



Discrimination factor


disulfiram (tetraethylthiuram disulfide)


Molecular Sieve 5A


salicylhydroxamic acid


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Copyright information

© Springer-Veralg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. Guy
    • 1
  • Joseph A. Berry
    • 1
  • Marilyn L. Fogel
    • 2
  • Thomas C. Hoering
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Geophysical LaboratoryCarnegie Institution of WashingtonWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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