Co-function of C3-and C4-photosynthetic pathways in C3, C4 and C3-C4 intermediate Flaveria species

R. K. Monson, B. d. Moore, M. S.B. Ku, G. E. Edwards

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99 Scopus citations


The potential for C4 photosynthesis was investigated in five C3-C4 intermediate species, one C3 species, and one C4 species in the genus Flaveria, using 14CO2 pulse-12CO2 chase techniques and quantum-yield measurements. All five intermediate species were capable of incorporating 14CO2 into the C4 acids malate and aspartate, following an 8-s pulse. The proportion of 14C label in these C4 products ranged from 50-55% to 20-26% in the C3-C4 intermediates F. floridana Johnston and F. linearis Lag. respectively. All of the intermediate species incorporated as much, or more, 14CO2 into aspartate as into malate. Generally, about 5-15% of the initial label in these species appeared as other organic acids. There was variation in the capacity for C4 photosynthesis among the intermediate species based on the apparent rate of conversion of 14C label from the C4 cycle to the C3 cycle. In intermediate species such as F. pubescens Rydb., F. ramosissima Klatt., and F. floridana we observed a substantial decrease in label of C4-cycle products and an increase in percentage label in C3-cycle products during chase periods with 12CO2, although the rate of change was slower than in the C4 species, F. palmeri. In these C3-C4 intermediates both sucrose and fumarate were predominant products after a 20-min chase period. In the C3-C4 intermediates, F. anomala Robinson and f. linearis we observed no significant decrease in the label of C4-cycle products during a 3-min chase period and a slow turnover during a 20-min chase, indicating a lower level of functional integration between the C4 and C3 cycles in these species, relative to the other intermediates. Although F. cronquistii Powell was previously identified as a C3 species, 7-18% of the initial label was in malate+aspartate. However, only 40-50% of this label was in the C-4 position, indicating C4-acid formation as secondary products of photosynthesis in F. cronquistii. In 21% O2, the absorbed quantum yields for CO2 uptake (in mol CO2·[mol quanta]-1) averaged 0.053 in F. cronquistii (C3), 0.051 in F. trinervia (Spreng.) Mohr (C4), 0.052 in F. ramosissima (C3-C4), 0.051 in F. anomala (C3-C4), 0.050 in F. linearis (C3-C4), 0.046 in F. floridana (C3-C4), and 0.044 in F. pubescens (C3-C4). In 2% O2 an enhancement of the quantum yield was observed in all of the C3-C4 intermediate species, ranging from 21% in F. ramosissima to 43% in F. pubescens. In all intermediates the quantum yields in 2% O2 were intermediate in value to the C3 and C4 species, indicating a co-function of the C3 and C4 cycles in CO2 assimilation. The low quantum-yield values for F. pubescens and F. floridana in 21% O2 presumably reflect an ineffcient transfer of carbon from the C4 to the C3 cycle. The response of the quantum yield to four increasing O2 concentrations (2-35%) showed lower levels of O2 inhibition in the C3-C4 intermediate F. ramosissima, relative to the C3 species. This indicates that the co-function of the C3 and C4 cycles in this intermediate species leads to an increased CO2 concentration at the site of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and a concomitant decrease in the competitive inhibition by O2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1986


  • C-C intermediate species
  • Flaveria
  • Photosynthesis (C, C, C-C)
  • Quantum yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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