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Oxygen response of leaf CO2 compensation points used to determine Rubisco specificity factors of gymnosperm species

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Rubisco specificity factor (Sc/o), a measure of the relative capacities of an enzyme to catalyze carboxylation and oxygenation of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate, determines the extent of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation and photorespiratory CO2 release. The current model of C3 photosynthesis, the Farquhar–von Caemmerer–Berry (FvCB) model, requires a species-specific Sc/o. However, Sc/o values have never been reported in conifers, likely because in vitro kinetic analysis of conifer Rubisco presents difficulties. To estimate the Sc/o of conifers and compare it with angiosperm Sc/o, we measured changes in leaf CO2 compensation points (Γ) in response to O2 partial pressure for a variety of leaves, with different rates of day respiration (Rday) and maximum Rubisco carboxylation (Vcmax) in gymnosperms (Ginkgo biloba), conifers (Metasequoia glyptostroboides and Cryptomeria japonica), and angiosperms (Nicotiana tabacum and Phaseolus vulgaris). As predicted by the FvCB model, the slope of a linear function of Γ vs O2 partial pressure, d, increased alongside increasing Rday/Vcmax. The Sc/o was obtainable from this relationship between d and Rday/Vcmax, because the d values at Rday/Vcmax = 0 corresponded to α/Sc/o, where α was the photorespiratory CO2 release rate per Rubisco oxygenation rate (generally assumed to be 0.5). The calculated Sc/o values of N. tabacum and P. vulgaris exhibited good agreement with those reported by in vitro studies. The Sc/o values of both conifers were similar to those of the two angiosperm species. In contrast, the Sc/o value of G. biloba was significantly lower than those of the other four studied species. These results suggest that our new method for Sc/o estimation is applicable to C3 plants, including those for which in vitro kinetic analysis is difficult. Furthermore, results also suggest that conifer Sc/o does not differ significantly from that of C3 angiosperms, assuming α remains unchanged.

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We thank Dr. Ko Tahara, Dr. Mitsuru Nishiguchi, and Dr. Takafumi Miyama in FFPRI for their helpful discussion and also thank Ms. Ai Hagiwara and Ms. Rie Yamamoto for their assistance with experiments. We used SAS software provided by AFFRIT, MAFF, Japan. This work was supported by Research Grant #201705 of FFPRI and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP16K07791.

Author information

S-IM performed experiments and analyses and wrote the manuscript; HT prepared the plant materials; TU-I analyzed the rbcL alignments; YS supported the experimental design. HT, TU-I, and YS edited the manuscript.

Correspondence to Shin-Ichi Miyazawa.

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Miyazawa, S., Tobita, H., Ujino-Ihara, T. et al. Oxygen response of leaf CO2 compensation points used to determine Rubisco specificity factors of gymnosperm species. J Plant Res 133, 205–215 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-020-01169-0

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  • C3 plants
  • Conifer
  • Gymnosperm
  • Photosynthesis
  • Rubisco
  • Rubisco specificity factor