Importance of leaf versus whole plant CO 2 environment for photosynthetic acclimation

D. A. Sims, Y. Luo, J. R. Seemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The reduction of photosynthetic capacity in many plants grown at elevated CO 2 is thought to result from a feedback effect of leaf carbohydrates on gene expression. Carbohydrate feedback at elevated CO 2 could result from limitations on carbohydrate utilization at many different points, for example export of triose phosphates from the chloroplast, sucrose synthesis and phloem loading, transport in the phloem, unloading of the phloem at the sinks, or utilization for growth of sinks. To determine the relative importance of leaf versus whole plant level limitations on carbohydrate utilization at elevated CO 2, and the possible effects on the regulation of photosynthetic capacity, we constructed a treatment system in which we could expose single, attached, soybean leaflets to CO 2 concentrations different from those experienced by the rest of the plant. The single leaflet treatments had dramatic effects on the carbohydrate contents of the treated leaflets. However, photosynthetic capacity and rubisco content were unaffected by the individual leaflet treatment and instead were related to the whole plant CO 2 environment, despite the fact that the CO 2 environment around the rest of the plant had no significant affect on the total non-structural carbohydrate (TNC) contents of the treated leaflets. These results necessitate a re-evaluation of the response mechanisms to CO 2 as well as some of the methods used to test these responses. We propose mechanisms by which sink strength could influence leaf physiology independently of changes in carbohydrate accumulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1196
Number of pages8
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Acclimation
  • Carbohydrates
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Fabaceae
  • Glycine max
  • Photosynthesis
  • Rubisco
  • Soybean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Importance of leaf versus whole plant CO 2 environment for photosynthetic acclimation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this