Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 119, Issue 1–2, pp 101–117 | Cite as

Temperature response of photosynthesis in C3, C4, and CAM plants: temperature acclimation and temperature adaptation

  • Wataru Yamori
  • Kouki Hikosaka
  • Danielle A. Way


Most plants show considerable capacity to adjust their photosynthetic characteristics to their growth temperatures (temperature acclimation). The most typical case is a shift in the optimum temperature for photosynthesis, which can maximize the photosynthetic rate at the growth temperature. These plastic adjustments can allow plants to photosynthesize more efficiently at their new growth temperatures. In this review article, we summarize the basic differences in photosynthetic reactions in C3, C4, and CAM plants. We review the current understanding of the temperature responses of C3, C4, and CAM photosynthesis, and then discuss the underlying physiological and biochemical mechanisms for temperature acclimation of photosynthesis in each photosynthetic type. Finally, we use the published data to evaluate the extent of photosynthetic temperature acclimation in higher plants, and analyze which plant groups (i.e., photosynthetic types and functional types) have a greater inherent ability for photosynthetic acclimation to temperature than others, since there have been reported interspecific variations in this ability. We found that the inherent ability for temperature acclimation of photosynthesis was different: (1) among C3, C4, and CAM species; and (2) among functional types within C3 plants. C3 plants generally had a greater ability for temperature acclimation of photosynthesis across a broad temperature range, CAM plants acclimated day and night photosynthetic process differentially to temperature, and C4 plants was adapted to warm environments. Moreover, within C3 species, evergreen woody plants and perennial herbaceous plants showed greater temperature homeostasis of photosynthesis (i.e., the photosynthetic rate at high-growth temperature divided by that at low-growth temperature was close to 1.0) than deciduous woody plants and annual herbaceous plants, indicating that photosynthetic acclimation would be particularly important in perennial, long-lived species that would experience a rise in growing season temperatures over their lifespan. Interestingly, across growth temperatures, the extent of temperature homeostasis of photosynthesis was maintained irrespective of the extent of the change in the optimum temperature for photosynthesis (T opt), indicating that some plants achieve greater photosynthesis at the growth temperature by shifting T opt, whereas others can also achieve greater photosynthesis at the growth temperature by changing the shape of the photosynthesis–temperature curve without shifting T opt. It is considered that these differences in the inherent stability of temperature acclimation of photosynthesis would be reflected by differences in the limiting steps of photosynthetic rate.


C3 photosynthesis C4 photosynthesis CAM photosynthesis Phenotypic plasticity Temperature acclimation Temperature adaptation 



We thank Professor Susanne von Caemmerer and Professor Ichiro Terashima for valuable comments on the manuscript. The experiment on CAM photosynthesis was performed in Professor von Caemmerer’s laboratory. This work was supported by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion Science (Postdoctoral Fellowships to W.Y.) and by grants from NSERC, the US Department of Agriculture (#2011-67003-30222), the US Department of Energy, Terrestrial Ecosystem Sciences (#11-DE-SC-0006967) and the US-Israeli Bi-National Science Foundation to D.A.W. and by a grant from CREST, JST, Japan (K.H.).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 293 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wataru Yamori
    • 1
  • Kouki Hikosaka
    • 2
    • 3
  • Danielle A. Way
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Environment, Health and Field SciencesChiba UniversityKashiwaJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Life SciencesTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  3. 3.CREST, JSTTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  5. 5.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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