Overcoming drought-induced decreases in soybean leaf photosynthesis by measuring with CO2-enriched air

James R. Frederick, David M. Alm, John D. Hesketh, Frederick E Below

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr. cv. Williams 82 and A3127] plants were grown in the field under long-term soil moisture deficit and irrigation to determine the effects of severe drought stress on the photosynthetic capacity of soybean leaves. Afternoon leaf water potentials, stomatal conductances, intercellular CO2 concentrations and CO2-assimilation rates for the two soil moisture treatments were compared during the pod elongation and seed enlargement stages of crop development. Leaf CO2-assimilation rates were measured with either ambient (340 μl CO2 l-1) or CO2-enriched (1800 μl CO2 l-1) air. Although seed yield and leaf area per plant were decreased an average of 48 and 31%, respectively, as a result of drought stress, leaf water potentials were reduced only an average of 0.27 MPa during the sampling period. Afternoon leaf CO2-assimilation rates measured with ambient air were decreased an average of 56 and 49% by soil moisture deficit for Williams 82 and A3127, respectively. The reductions in leaf photosynthesis of both cultivars were associated with similar decreases in leaf stomatal conductance and with small increases in leaf intercellular CO2 concentration. When the CO2-enriched air was used, similar afternoon leaf CO2-assimilation rates were found between the soil moisture treatments at each stage of crop development. These results suggest that photosynthetic capacity of soybean leaves is not reduced by severe soil moisture deficit when a stress develops gradually under field conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1990


  • Glycine max
  • carbon dioxide
  • photosynthesis
  • stomatal conductances
  • water potential
  • water stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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