Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Influence of light and nitrogen on the photosynthetic efficiency in the C4 plant Miscanthus × giganteus

  • Jian-Ying Ma
  • Wei Sun
  • Nuria K. Koteyeva
  • Elena Voznesenskaya
  • Samantha S. Stutz
  • Anthony Gandin
  • Andreia M. Smith-Moritz
  • Joshua L. Heazlewood
  • Asaph B. CousinsEmail author
Original Article


There are numerous studies describing how growth conditions influence the efficiency of C4 photosynthesis. However, it remains unclear how changes in the biochemical capacity versus leaf anatomy drives this acclimation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine how growth light and nitrogen availability influence leaf anatomy, biochemistry and the efficiency of the CO2 concentrating mechanism in Miscanthus × giganteus. There was an increase in the mesophyll cell wall surface area but not cell well thickness in the high-light (HL) compared to the low-light (LL) grown plants suggesting a higher mesophyll conductance in the HL plants, which also had greater photosynthetic capacity. Additionally, the HL plants had greater surface area and thickness of bundle-sheath cell walls compared to LL plants, suggesting limited differences in bundle-sheath CO2 conductance because the increased area was offset by thicker cell walls. The gas exchange estimates of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPc) activity were significantly less than the in vitro PEPc activity, suggesting limited substrate availability in the leaf due to low mesophyll CO2 conductance. Finally, leakiness was similar across all growth conditions and generally did not change under the different measurement light conditions. However, differences in the stable isotope composition of leaf material did not correlate with leakiness indicating that dry matter isotope measurements are not a good proxy for leakiness. Taken together, these data suggest that the CO2 concentrating mechanism in Miscanthus is robust under low-light and limited nitrogen growth conditions, and that the observed changes in leaf anatomy and biochemistry likely help to maintain this efficiency.


Carbon isotope discrimination C4 photosynthesis Miscanthus Nitrogen Light 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant Nos. 41071032, 31270445], the 9th Thousand Talents Program of China, the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Science [DE-FG02_09ER16062] and Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research [DE-AC02-05CH11231]. Instrumentation was obtained through an NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant [#0923562]. JLH was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship [FT130101165]. We thank C. Cody for plants growth management, Dr. Steve Long for Miscanthus plant material and the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center of Washington State University for use of its facilities.

Supplementary material

11120_2016_281_MOESM1_ESM.docx (175 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 174 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian-Ying Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Sun
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nuria K. Koteyeva
    • 4
  • Elena Voznesenskaya
    • 4
  • Samantha S. Stutz
    • 2
  • Anthony Gandin
    • 2
  • Andreia M. Smith-Moritz
    • 5
  • Joshua L. Heazlewood
    • 5
    • 6
  • Asaph B. Cousins
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.School of Biological ScienceWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Grassland Science, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of EducationNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  4. 4.Laboratory of Anatomy and MorphologyV.L. Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  5. 5.Joint BioEnergy Institute and Physical Biosciences DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  6. 6.ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, School of BioSciencesThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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