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Plant Physiol. 1995 May;108(1):173-181.

Measurement of the Leakage of CO2 from Bundle-Sheath Cells of Leaves during C4 Photosynthesis.

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  • 1Division of Plant Industry, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2601 Australia.


During C4 photosynthesis, CO2 is released in bundle-sheath cells by decarboxylation of C4 acids and then refixed via ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase. In this study we examined the efficiency of this process by determining the proportion of the released CO2 that diffuses back to mesophyll cells instead of being refixed. This leak of CO2 was assessed by determining the amount of 14CO2 released from leaves during a chase in high [12CO2] following a 70-s pulse in 14CO2. A computer-based analysis of the time-course curve for 14CO2 release indicated a first-order process and provided an estimate of the initial velocity of 14CO2 release from leaves. From this value and the net rate of photosynthesis determined from the 14CO2 fixed in the pulse, the CO2 leak rate from bundle-sheath cells (expressed as a percentage of the rate of CO2 production from C4 acids) could be deduced. For nine species of Gramineae representing the different subgroups of C4 plants and two NAD-malic enzyme-type dicotyledonous species, the CO2 leak ranged between 8 and 14%. However, very high CO2 leak rates (averaging about 27%) were recorded for two NADP-malic enzyme-type dicotyledonous species of Flaveria. The results are discussed in terms of the efficiency of C4 photosynthesis and observed quantum yields.

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