Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 230, Issue 1–2, pp 43–74

Origin and evolution of C4 photosynthesis in the tribe Salsoleae (Chenopodiaceae) based on anatomical and biochemical types in leaves and cotyledons

  • V. Pyankov
  • H. Ziegler
  • A. Kuz'min
  • G. Edwards

DOI: 10.1007/s006060170004

Cite this article as:
Pyankov, V., Ziegler, H., Kuz'min, A. et al. Plant Syst. Evol. (2001) 230: 43. doi:10.1007/s006060170004


 The Chenopodiaceae genus Salsola contains a large number of species with C4 photosynthesis. Along with derivative genera they have a prominent position among the desert vegetation of Asia and Africa. About 130 species from Asia and Africa were investigated to determine the occurrence of C3 versus C4 syndrome in leaves and cotyledons, and to study specific anatomical and biochemical features of photosynthesis in both photosynthetic organs. The species studied belong to all six previously identified sections of the tribe Salsoleae based on morphological characters. Types of photosynthesis were identified using carbon 13C/12C isotope fractionation. The representatives of all systematic groups were investigated for mesophyll anatomy and biochemical subtypes by determination of enzyme activity (RUBPC, PEPC, NAD- and NADP-ME and AAT) and primary photosynthetic products. Two photosynthetic types (C3 and C4) and two biochemical subtypes (NAD- and NADP-ME) were identified in both leaves and cotyledons. Both Kranz and non-Kranz type anatomy were found in leaves and cotyledons, but cotyledons had more diversity in anatomical structure. Strong relationships between anatomical types and biochemical subtypes in leaves and cotyledons were shown. We found convincing evidence for a similar pattern of structural and biochemical features of photosynthesis in leaves and cotyledons within systematic groups, and evaluated their relevance at the evolutionary level. We identified six groups in tribe Salsoleae with respect to photosynthetic types and mesophyll structure in leaves and cotyledons. Two separate lineages of biochemical and anatomical evolution within Salsoleae were demonstrated based on studies of leaves and cotyledons. The sections Caroxylon, Malpighipila, Cardiandra and Belanthera have no C3 species and only the NAD-ME C4 subtype has been found in leaves. We suggest the C4 species in the NADP-ME lineage evolved in Coccosalsola and Salsola sections, and originated in the subsection Arbuscula. Coccosalsola contains many species with C3 and/or C3-C4 intermediate photosynthesis. Within these main evolutionary lineages, species of different taxonomic groups (sections and subsections) had differences in anatomical or/and biochemical features in leaves and cotyledons. We conclude that structural and biochemical changes in the photosynthetic apparatus in species of the tribe Salsoleae were a key factor in their evolution and broad distribution in extreme desert environments.

Key words: C3 and C4 photosynthesis, Chenopodi- aceae, cotyledons, evolution, leaf anatomy, Salsola, δ13C fractionation. 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Pyankov
    • 1
  • H. Ziegler
    • 2
  • A. Kuz'min
    • 3
  • G. Edwards
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Plant Physiology, Urals State University, Ekaterinburg, RussiaRU
  2. 2.Botanisches Institut, TU München, Biologicum Weihenstephan, Freising, GermanyDE
  3. 3.Institute of Basic Biological Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, Puschino, Moscow region, RussiaRU
  4. 4.School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USAUS

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