, Volume 220, Issue 2, pp 307–317 | Cite as

Structural and biochemical bases of photorespiration in C4 plants: quantification of organelles and glycine decarboxylase

  • Yasuyuki Yoshimura
  • Fumitake Kubota
  • Osamu Ueno
Original Article


In C4 plants, photorespiration is decreased relative to C3 plants. However, it remains unclear how much photorespiratory capacity C4 leaf tissues actually have. We thoroughly investigated the quantitative distribution of photorespiratory organelles and the immunogold localization of the P protein of glycine decarboxylase (GDC) in mesophyll (M) and bundle sheath (BS) cells of various C4 grass species. Specific differences occurred in the proportions of mitochondria and peroxisomes in the BS cells (relative to the M cells) in photosynthetic tissues surrounding a vein: lower in the NADP-malic enzyme (NADP-ME) species having poorly formed grana in the BS chloroplasts, and higher in the NAD-malic enzyme (NAD-ME) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PCK) species having well developed grana. In all C4 species, GDC was localized mainly in the BS mitochondria. When the total amounts of GDC in the BS mitochondria per unit leaf width were estimated from the immunogold labeling density and the quantity of mitochondria, the BSs of NADP-ME species contained less GDC than those of NAD-ME or PCK species. This trend was also verified by immunoblot analysis of leaf soluble protein. There was a high positive correlation between the degree of granal development (granal index) in the BS chloroplasts and the total amount of GDC in the BS mitochondria. The variations in the structural and biochemical features involved in photorespiration found among C4 species might reflect differences in the O2/CO2 partial pressure and in the potential photorespiratory capacity of the BS cells.


C4 photosynthesis C4 subtype Glycine decarboxylase Granal development Mitochondrion Photorespiration 



Bundle sheath


Glycine decarboxylase




NAD-malic enzyme


NADP-malic enzyme


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase



We thank Dr. D.J. Oliver for his kind gift of the antiserum against the P protein of GDC. The seeds of Eriachne and Urochloa species were supplied by the USDA National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. This study was partly supported by a grant-in-aid to O.U. from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (Bio-Design Project).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasuyuki Yoshimura
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Fumitake Kubota
    • 2
  • Osamu Ueno
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Physiology DepartmentNational Institute of Agrobiological SciencesIbaraki 305-8602Japan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureKyushu UniversityFukuoka 812-8581Japan
  3. 3.National Institute of Agro-Environmental ScienceIbaraki 305-8604Japan

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