Russian Journal of Plant Physiology

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 567–575 | Cite as

Structure of the Photosynthetic Apparatus in Leaves of Freshwater Hydrophytes: 1. General Characteristics of the Leaf Mesophyll and a Comparison with Terrestrial Plants

  • D. A. Ronzhina
  • V. I. P'yankov


The structure of photosynthetic elements was investigated in leaves of 42 boreal plant species featuring different degrees of submergence (helophytes, neustophytes, and hydatophytes). The mesophyll structure types were identified for all these species. Chlorenchyma tissues and phototrophic cells were quantitatively described by such characteristics as the sizes of cells and chloroplasts in the mesophyll and epidermis, the abundance of cells and chloroplasts in these tissues, the total surface area of cells and chloroplasts per unit leaf area, the number of plastids per cell, etc. The hydrophytes typically had thick leaves (200–350 μm) with a well-developed aerenchyma; their specific density per unit area (100–200 mg/dm2) was lower than in terrestrial plants. Mesophyll cells in aquatic plants occupied a larger volume (5–20 × 103μm3) than epidermal cells (1–15 × 103μm3). The number of mesophyll cells per unit leaf area was nearly 1.5 times higher than that of epidermal cells. Chloroplasts were present in the epidermis of almost all species, including emergent leaves, but the ratio of the chloroplast total number to the number of all plastids varied depending on the degree of leaf submergence. The total number of plastids per unit leaf area (2–6 × 106/cm2) and the surface of chloroplasts per unit leaf area (2–6 cm2/cm2) were lower in hydrophytes than in terrestrial plants from climatically similar habitats. The functional relations between mesophyll parameters were similar for hydrophytes and terrestrial plants (a positive correlation between the leaf weight per unit area, leaf thickness, and the number of mesophyll cells per unit leaf area), although no correlation was found in hydrophytes between the volume of mesophyll cells and the leaf thickness. Phototrophic tissues in aquatic plants contributed a larger fraction to the leaf weight than in terrestrial plants, because the mechanical tissues were less developed in hydrophytes. The CO2assimilation rates by leaves were lower in hydrophytes than in terrestrial plants, because the total surface area of chloroplasts per unit leaf area is comparatively small in hydrophytes, which reduces the conductivity for carbon dioxide diffusion towards the carboxylation sites.

hydrophytes leaf anatomy mesophyll epidermis photosynthesis adaptation 


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Copyright information

© MAIK “Nauka/Interperiodica” 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. Ronzhina
    • 1
  • V. I. P'yankov
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of BiologyUral State UniversityYekaterinburgRussia

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