The activity and malate inhibition/stimulation of phosphoenolpyruvate-carboxylase in crassulacean-acid-metabolism plants in their natural environment
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The effect of environmental conditions, temperature, relative humidity, and light, together with the regulation of PEPC (phosphoenolpyruvate-carboxylase) activity by malate and pH on CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism), was studied in members of the Mesembryanthemaceae in their natural environment, the southern Namib desert. It was found that during a 24 h period the characteristics of PEPC change. Before sunrise the activity is higher when measured at pH 7 than 8. With bright sunlight the activity measured at pH 7 drops to 20% of its pre-sunrise value, the activity only recovers gradually after malate disappearance and stays constant throughout the night. When measured at pH 8, PEPC shows an opposite behavior, i.e., activity increases in bright sunlight and declines as the pH 7 activity increases. A day-night oscillation in the capacity of malate to stimulate or inhibit PEPC was found. During the day malate inhibits about 90% of the PEPC activity at both pH 7 and 8. After sunset there is a sudden decrease in this inhibition and, at pH 8, malate stimulates the activity by 50%. At pH 7 the stimulation was less.
Both stomatal conductance and malate formation were found to increase only when the relative humidity at night rose to 80%. Changes in the properties of the PEPC coincided with the exposure to bright sunlight and changes in leaf temperature. The importance of these metabolic and environmental controls on the regulation of CAM in the Mesembryanthemaceae will be discussed.
Key wordsCAM regulation Environmental variables Malate inhibition/stimulation Mesembryanthemaceae PEP carboxylase
crassulacean acid metabolism
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