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New Phytol. 2018 Mar;217(4):1463-1474. doi: 10.1111/nph.14942. Epub 2017 Dec 8.

Mesophyll conductance in Zea mays responds transiently to CO2 availability: implications for transpiration efficiency in C4 crops.

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School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, 99164, USA.


Mesophyll conductance (gm ) describes the movement of CO2 from the intercellular air spaces below the stomata to the site of initial carboxylation in the mesophyll. In contrast with C3 -gm , little is currently known about the intraspecific variation in C4 -gm or its responsiveness to environmental stimuli. To address these questions, gm was measured on five maize (Zea mays) lines in response to CO2 , employing three different estimates of gm . Each of the methods indicated a significant response of gm to CO2 . Estimates of gm were similar between methods at ambient and higher CO2 , but diverged significantly at low partial pressures of CO2 . These differences are probably driven by incomplete chemical and isotopic equilibrium between CO2 and bicarbonate under these conditions. Carbonic anhydrase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase in vitro activity varied significantly despite similar values of gm and leaf anatomical traits. These results provide strong support for a CO2 response of gm in Z. mays, and indicate that gm in maize is probably driven by anatomical constraints rather than by biochemical limitations. The CO2 response of gm indicates a potential role for facilitated diffusion in C4 -gm . These results also suggest that water-use efficiency could be enhanced in C4 species by targeting gm .


C4 photosynthesis; CO2 response; Zea mays (maize); carbonic anhydrase (CA); mesophyll conductance; phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC)

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