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Planta. 1991 Mar;183(4):542-54. doi: 10.1007/BF00194276.

Decreased ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase in transgenic tobacco transformed with "antisense" rbcS : I. Impact on photosynthesis in ambient growth conditions.

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Lehrstuhl für Pflanzenphysiologie, Universität Bayreuth, Postfach 101251, W-8580, Bayreuth, Federal Republic of Germany.


Experiments were carried out to determine how decreased expression of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) affects photosynthetic metabolism in ambient growth conditions. In a series of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) plants containing progressively smaller amounts of Rubisco the rate of photosynthesis was measured under conditions similar to those in which the plants had been grown (310 μmol photons · m(-2) · s(-1), 350 μbar CO2, 22° C). (i) There was only a marginal inhibition (6%) of photosynthesis when Rubisco was decreased to about 60% of the amount in the wildtype. The reduced amount of Rubisco was compensated for by an increase in Rubisco activation (rising from 60 to 100%), with minor contributions from an increase of its substrates (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate and the internal CO2 concentration) and a decrease of its product (glycerate-3-phosphate). (ii) The decreased amount of Rubisco was accompanied by an increased ATP/ADP ratio that may be causally linked to the increased activation of Rubisco. An increase of highenergy-state chlorophyll fluorescence shows that thylakoid membrane energisation and high-energy-state-dependent energy dissipation at photosystem two had also increased. (iii) A further decrease of Rubisco (in the range of 50-20% of the wildtype level) resulted in a strong and proportional inhibition of CO2 assimilation. This was accompanied by a decrease of fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase activity, coupling-factor 1 (CF1)-ATP-synthase protein, NADP-malate dehydrogenase protein, and chlorophyll. The chlorophyll a/b ratio did not change, and enolase and sucrose-phosphate synthase activity did not decrease. It is argued that other photosynthetic enzymes are also decreased once Rubisco decreases to the point at which it becomes strongly limiting for photosynthesis. (iv) It is proposed that the amount of Rubisco in the wildtype represents a balance between the demands of light, water and nitrogen utilisation. The wildtype overinvests about 15% more protein in Rubisco than is needed to avoid a strict Rubisco limitation of photosynthesis. However, this "excess" Rubisco allows the wildtype to operate with lower thylakoid energisation, and decreased high-energy-state-dependent energy dissipation, hence increasing light-use efficiency by about 6%. It also allows the wildtype to operate with a lower internal CO2 concentration in the leaf and a lower stomatal conductance at a given rate of photosynthesis, so that instantaneous water-use efficiency is marginally (8%) increased.


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