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Can Increase in Rubisco Specificity Increase Carbon Gain by Whole Canopy? A Modeling Analysis

  • Xin-Guang Zhu
  • Stephen P. Long
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 29)

Genetic modification of Ribulose bis-phosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) to increase the specificity for CO2 relative to O2(τ) would decrease photorespiration and in principle should increase crop productivity. When the kinetic properties of Rubisco from different photosynthetic organisms are compared, it appears that Rubiscos with higher τ generally have lower maximum catalytic rates of car-boxylation per active site (k C). Given this inverse relationship, we explored whether increasing τ results in increased leaf and canopy photosynthesis. A steady-state biochemical model of leaf photosynthesis was coupled to a canopy biophysical microclimate model and used in this chapter. C3 photosynthetic CO2uptake rate (A) is either limited by Rubisco or by the rate of regeneration of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP). The latter is mainly determined by the rate of whole chain electron transport (J). Thus, if J is limiting, an increase in τ will increase net CO2 uptake because more products of the electron transport chain will be partitioned away from photorespiration into photosynthetic CO2 fixation. The effect of an increase in τ on Rubisco-limited photosynthesis depends on k C, but differently dependent on the concentration of CO2. Assuming a strict inverse relationship between k C and τ, theoretical simulations showed that a decrease, not an increase, in τ increases Rubisco-limited (light-saturated) photosynthesis at the current atmospheric CO2 concentration. Crop canopies have both sunlit and shaded leaves. In addition, during a diurnal period light levels are high at midday and low at dawn and dusk. As a result, both light-limited and light-saturated photosynthesis contribute to total crop carbon gain. For canopies, the present average τ found in C3 terrestrial plants is supra-optimal for the present ambient atmospheric CO2 concentration of 370 μ mol mol−1, but would be optimal for a CO2 concentration of around 200 μ mol mol−1, a value close to the average of the last 400,000 years. Replacing the Rubisco of terrestrial C3 plants with one with a lower, but optimal τ would increase canopy carbon gain by 3%. Because there are Rubiscos with significant deviations from the average inverse relationship between k Cand τ, we also used the canopy model to compare the rates of canopy photosynthesis for several such Rubiscos. These simulations suggested that very substantial increases (>25%) in crop carbon gain could result if specific Rubiscos deviating either towards a higher τ or higher k C can be expressed in C3 plants.

Keywords

Leaf Area Index Plant Cell Environ Crop Canopy Canopy Photosynthesis Canopy Carbon Gain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin-Guang Zhu
    • 1
  • Stephen P. Long
    • 2
  1. 1.Partner Institute of Computational BiologyChinese Academy of Sciences-Max Planck Society of GermanyShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Edgar R. Madigan LaboratoryUrbanaUSA

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