Intraspecific variation in photosynthetic responses of trebouxioid lichens with reference to the activity of a carbon-concentrating mechanism
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The photosynthetic responses of a range of trebouxioid lichens were investigated to determine whether variations in net assimilation rates shown by populations of the same species collected from different habitats could be correlated with adjustments in carbon-concentrating mechanism (CCM) activity. The activity of a CCM was inferred from the high affinity for CO2 [i.e. low CO2 compensation point (Γ); low external CO2 concentration at which half-maximal assimilation rates are reached (K0.5 CO2)], the release of a pool of accumulated dissolved inorganic carbon (Ci) during light/dark transient measurements of CO2 exchange and values for carbon isotope discrimination intermediate between those characteristic of C3 and C4 terrestrial plants. Higher net and gross assimilation rates were expressed by lichens collected from shaded woodland habitats. The higher rates were not accounted for by variations in chlorophyll content. Lichens with high assimilation rates also showed an increased affinity for CO2 as demonstrated by low CO2 compensation points and K0.5 values and the magnitude of the Ci pool accumulated upon illumination and released after darkening of the thalli. However, there was no correlation between assimilation rates and organic matter or instantaneous carbon isotope discrimination measurements, with the latter remaining roughly consistent whatever the provenance or species of the lichen material. The data are discussed with reference to significant environmental factors which are likely to control photosynthesis in the habitats studied.
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