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Photosynthesis and Nitrogen-Use Efficiency

  • P. Ananda Kumar
  • Martin A. J. Parry
  • Rowan A. C. Mitchell
  • Altaf Ahmad
  • Yash P. Abrol
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 12)

Summary

In C3 crop plants about 60–80% of leaf nitrogen (N) is invested in the photosynthetic apparatus, and N nutrition plays a crucial role in determining photosynthetic capacity. The proportion of leaf N invested in photosynthetic components is fairly constant. By contrast, both N per unit leaf area and the allocation of N between the component photosynthetic processes depend on environmental factors such as N availability, irradiance and CO2 concentration. Light-harvesting and electron transport components often show a co-ordinated and equivalent response to N nutrition. In contrast, most studies have shown disproportionately large changes in ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) in response to N supply, demonstrating the importance of this protein in leaf N economy. At low light, for a given N availability, more protein is allocated towards light harvesting components in order to maximize light capture and, expressed per unit Chl, electron transport and carboxylation capacities are relatively small. High irradiance tends to alter the partitioning of N away from thylakoid protein to soluble proteins, particularly Rubisco. Growth at elevated CO2 often leads to decreases in the amounts of Rubisco and other photosynthetic components on a leaf area basis. This is explicable in terms of greater N sinks elsewhere in the plant as a result of increased carbohydrate availability and acclimatory changes. Models predict that in order to arrive at optimal N use efficiency (NUE) at likely future ambient CO2 concentrations, leaves will need to achieve a redistribution of N so that the ratio between the capacities for regeneration of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate and carboxylation increases by 30–40%. Human intervention to improve the NUE of crops would have economic and environmental benefits, reducing pollution of water supply by nitrates. The NUE of photosynthesis could be increased either through manipulation of Rubisco amounts or properties, or by decreasing photorespiration. While decreasing Rubisco content could enhance NUE by only about 5%, eliminating photorespiration could produce a change of more than 50%.

Abbreviations

CA1P — 2′carboxy-D-arabinitol 1-phosphate CFo-CF1 — coupling factor Chl — chlorophyll FNR — ferredoxin-NADF+ reductase LHC — light harvesting chlorophyll-protein complexes NUE — nitrogen use efficiency PEP — phosphoenolpyruvate PNUE—photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency PRK — phosphoribulokinase PS I — Photosystem I (reaction center and antennae) PS II — Photosystem II (reaction center and antennae) RPP — reductive pentose phosphate (RPP pathway=Calvin cycle) Rubisco — ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase SBPase — sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphatase 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Ananda Kumar
    • 1
  • Martin A. J. Parry
    • 2
  • Rowan A. C. Mitchell
    • 2
  • Altaf Ahmad
    • 3
  • Yash P. Abrol
    • 3
  1. 1.National Research Centre for Plant BiotechnologyIndian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Biochemistry and Physiology DepartmentlACR-RothamstedHarpendenUK
  3. 3.Division of Plant PhysiologyIndian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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