A generalised dynamic model of leaf-level C3 photosynthesis combining light and dark reactions with stomatal behaviour

  • Chandra Bellasio
Original Article


Global food demand is rising, impelling us to develop strategies for improving the efficiency of photosynthesis. Classical photosynthesis models based on steady-state assumptions are inherently unsuitable for assessing biochemical and stomatal responses to rapid variations in environmental drivers. To identify strategies to increase photosynthetic efficiency, we need models that account for the timing of CO2 assimilation responses to dynamic environmental stimuli. Herein, I present a dynamic process-based photosynthetic model for C3 leaves. The model incorporates both light and dark reactions, coupled with a hydro-mechanical model of stomatal behaviour. The model achieved a stable and realistic rate of light-saturated CO2 assimilation and stomatal conductance. Additionally, it replicated complete typical assimilatory response curves (stepwise change in CO2 and light intensity at different oxygen levels) featuring both short lag times and full photosynthetic acclimation. The model also successfully replicated transient responses to changes in light intensity (light flecks), CO2 concentration, and atmospheric oxygen concentration. This dynamic model is suitable for detailed ecophysiological studies and has potential for superseding the long-dominant steady-state approach to photosynthesis modelling. The model runs as a stand-alone workbook in Microsoft® Excel® and is freely available to download along with a video tutorial.


Mechanistic model Microsoft® Excel® Stomatal model Time Transients Stomatal conductance Assimilation Photorespiration Light fleck 



I am deeply grateful to the Editor of this special issue, Nerea Ubierna Lopez, for editing that improved the clarity and readability, to Joe Quirk for a substantial contribution to writing the first version, I thank Ross Deans (Australian National University, ANU) for unpublished spinach leaf gas exchange data, and Florian Busch (ANU) for help, review, and critical discussion. I am funded through a H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellowship (DILIPHO, ID: 702755).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

I have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11120_2018_601_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (186 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 186 KB)
11120_2018_601_MOESM2_ESM.xlsm (350 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSM 350 KB)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of BiologyAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia
  2. 2.University of the Balearic IslandsPalmaSpain
  3. 3.Trees and Timber InstituteNational Research Council of ItalyFlorenceItaly

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