The relative limitation of photosynthesis by mesophyll conductance in co-occurring species in a temperate rainforest dominated by the conifer Dacrydium cupressinum

Evan H. De Lucia, David Whitehead, Michael J. Clearwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The capacity to conduct CO2 from the intercellar spaces in leaves to the site of fixation (mesophyll conductance, gm) may pose a significant limitation to photosynthesis. Dacrydium cupressinum Sol. ex Lamb, (rimu), a native conifer of New Zealand, and other members of the Podocarpaceae evolved during the Jurassic when the partial pressure of CO2 exceeded 200 Pa. This species has low rates of photosynthesis and high levels of leaf nitrogen, which have led to the hypothesis that low gm restricts photosynthesis. Mesophyll conductance was estimated from gas-exchange and fluorescence measurements for this and other co-occurring tree species [Prumnopitys ferruginea D. Don (miro), Weinmannia racemosa L.f. (kāmahi), Meterosideros umbellata Cav. (rata)]. Pinus radiata D. Don (radiata pine) and Phaseolus vulgaris L. (bean) were included to provide comparisons with a rapidly growing tree and herbaceous plant with relatively high photosynthetic rates. Mesophyll conductance was not statistically different among indigenous tree species but was lowest for D. cupressinum. This species also had the lowest ratio of mesophyll to stomatal conductance, gm/gst and was the only species where the decline in partial pressure of CO 2 was greater from the intercellular air space to the site of fixation (16.3 Pa) than between the bulk air and the intercellular spaces (8.8 Pa), providing support for the hypotheses that low gm limits photosynthesis in this species. As a group, conifers had marginally lower g m and gm/gst ratio than angiosperms, but this difference was strongly influenced by the high values for Phaseolus vulgaris. That co-occurring members of the Podocarpaceae operated differently suggests that low gm may reflect a response to evolutionary pressures other than high atmospheric CO2 partial pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1197-1204
Number of pages8
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Volume30
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

Fingerprint

Dacrydium cupressinum
mesophyll
conifers
rain forests
photosynthesis
Podocarpaceae
carbon dioxide
Pinus radiata
Phaseolus vulgaris
Weinmannia
air
intercellular spaces
herbaceous plants
gas exchange
stomatal conductance
leaves
Angiospermae
beans
lambs
fluorescence

Keywords

  • CO compensation point
  • Day respiration
  • Gas exchange
  • Intercellular CO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

The relative limitation of photosynthesis by mesophyll conductance in co-occurring species in a temperate rainforest dominated by the conifer Dacrydium cupressinum. / De Lucia, Evan H.; Whitehead, David; Clearwater, Michael J.

In: Functional Plant Biology, Vol. 30, No. 12, 01.12.2003, p. 1197-1204.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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