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Plant Physiol. 2009 Aug;150(4):2104-15. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.139162. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

More productive than maize in the Midwest: How does Miscanthus do it?

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology , University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

Abstract

In the first side-by-side large-scale trials of these two C(4) crops in the U.S. Corn Belt, Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) was 59% more productive than grain maize (Zea mays). Total productivity is the product of the total solar radiation incident per unit land area and the efficiencies of light interception (epsilon(i)) and its conversion into aboveground biomass (epsilon(ca)). Averaged over two growing seasons, epsilon(ca) did not differ, but epsilon(i) was 61% higher for Miscanthus, which developed a leaf canopy earlier and maintained it later. The diurnal course of photosynthesis was measured on sunlit and shaded leaves of each species on 26 dates. The daily integral of leaf-level photosynthetic CO(2) uptake differed slightly when integrated across two growing seasons but was up to 60% higher in maize in mid-summer. The average leaf area of Miscanthus was double that of maize, with the result that calculated canopy photosynthesis was 44% higher in Miscanthus, corresponding closely to the biomass differences. To determine the basis of differences in mid-season leaf photosynthesis, light and CO(2) responses were analyzed to determine in vivo biochemical limitations. Maize had a higher maximum velocity of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylation, velocity of phosphoenolpyruvate regeneration, light saturated rate of photosynthesis, and higher maximum quantum efficiency of CO(2) assimilation. These biochemical differences, however, were more than offset by the larger leaf area and its longer duration in Miscanthus. The results indicate that the full potential of C(4) photosynthetic productivity is not achieved by modern temperate maize cultivars.

PMID:
19535474
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2719137
Free PMC Article

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