Environmental and Evolutionary Constraints on the Photosynthetic Characteristics of Higher Plants
plants differ in their photosynthetic capacity by over two orders of magnitude (Figure 13.1). Relative carbon-gaining capacity is a critical parameter in plant competitive relationships (Mooney, 1977). It is understood that factors other than carbon gain per se, such as reproductive output or success, may determine long-term fitness, but these in turn cannot be completely divorced from carbon-gaining capacity. In view of this dependence, we explore here a theoretical framework for the physiological and evolutionary basis of this variation in photosynthetic capacity among plant species. We then consider the implications of these constraints on photosynthesis for carbon allocation within the plant.
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