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Plant Physiol. 1980 Feb;65(2):331-5.

C(4) Acid Metabolism and Dark CO(2) Fixation in a Submersed Aquatic Macrophyte (Hydrilla verticillata).

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Department of Botany, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611.


The CO(2) compensation point of the submersed aquatic macrophyte Hydrilla verticillata varied from high (above 50 microliters per liter) to low (10 to 25 microliters per liter) values, depending on the growth conditions. Plants from the lake in winter or after incubation in an 11 C/9-hour photoperiod had high values, whereas summer plants or those incubated in a 27 C/14-hour photoperiod had low values. The plants with low CO(2) compensation points exhibited dark (14)CO(2) fixation rates that were up to 30% of the light fixation rates. This fixation reduced respiratory CO(2) loss, but did not result in a net uptake of CO(2) at night. The low compensation point plants also showed diurnal fluctuations in titratable acid, such as occur in Crassulacean acid metabolism plants. However, dark fixation and diurnal acid fluctuations were negligible in Hydrilla plants with high CO(2) compensation points.Exposure of the low compensation point plants to 20 micromolar (14)CO(2) resulted in 60% of the (14)C being incorporated into malate and aspartate, with only 16% in sugar phosphates. At a high CO(2) level, the C(4) acid label was decreased. A pulse-chase study indicated that the (14)C in malate, but not aspartate, decreased after a long (270-second) chase period; thus, the C(4) acid turnover was much slower than in C(4) plants.Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase activity was high (330 micromoles per milligram chlorophyll per hour), as compared to ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (20 to 25), in the plants with low compensation points. These plants also had a pyruvate, Pi dikinase activity in the leaves of 41 micromoles per milligram chlorophyll per hour, which suggests they are not C(3) plants. NAD- and NADP(+)-malate dehydrogenase activities were 6136 and 24.5 micromoles per milligram chlorophyll per hour, respectively. Of the three decarboxylating enzymes assayed, the activities of NAD- and NADP(+)-malic enzyme were 104.2 and 23.7 micromoles per milligram chlorophyll per hour, while phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase was only 0.2.Low compensation point Hydrilla plants fix some CO(2) into C(4) acids, which can be decarboxylated for later refixation, presumably into the Calvin cycle. Refixation would be advantageous in summer lake environments where the CO(2) levels are high at night but low during the day. Hydrilla does not fit any of the present photosynthetic categories, and may have to be placed into a new group, together with other submersed aquatic macrophytes that have environmentally variable CO(2) compensation points.

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