Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 104, Issue 1, pp 49–59 | Cite as

Effects of fosmidomycin on plant photosynthesis as measured by gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence

  • Malcolm PossellEmail author
  • Annette Ryan
  • Claudia E. Vickers
  • Philip M. Mullineaux
  • C. Nicholas Hewitt
Regular Paper


In higher plants, many isoprenoids are synthesised via the chloroplastic 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate/2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. Attempts to elucidate the function of individual isoprenoids have used the antibiotic/herbicidal compound fosmidomycin (3-[N-formyl-N-hydroxy amino] propyl phosphonic acid) to inhibit this pathway. Examination of the effect of fosmidomycin on the major components of photosynthesis in leaves of white poplar (Populus alba) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) was made. Fosmidomycin reduced net photosynthesis in both species within 1 h of application, but only when photosynthesis was light-saturated. In P. alba, these reductions were confounded by high light and fosmidomycin inducing stomatal patchiness. In tobacco, this was caused by significant reductions in PSII chlorophyll fluorescence and reductions in V cmax and J max. Our data indicate that the diminution of photosynthesis is likely a complex effect resulting from the inhibition of multiple MEP pathway products, resulting in photoinhibition and photo-damage. These effects should be accounted for in experimental design and analysis when using fosmidomycin to avoid misinterpretation of results as measured by gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence.


Fosmidomycin Photosynthesis Populus alba Nicotiana tabacum Isoprenoids Isoprene 



This study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (award BBS/B/12172), and the NERC (studentship award NER/S/A/2005/13680 to AR). Additional support was provided by the European Science Foundation ‘VOCBAS’ programme, and the EC Marie Curie RTN ‘ISONET’.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm Possell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Annette Ryan
    • 1
  • Claudia E. Vickers
    • 2
    • 3
  • Philip M. Mullineaux
    • 2
  • C. Nicholas Hewitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.Australian Institute for Bioengineering and NanotechnologyThe University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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