Development of C4 photosynthesis in sorghum leaves grown under free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)

A. B. Cousins, N. R. Adam, G. W. Wall, B. A. Kimball, P. J. Pinter, M. J. Ottman, S. W. Leavitt, A. N. Webber

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34 Scopus citations


The developmental pattern of C4 expression has been well characterized in maize and other C4 plants. However, few reports have explored the possibility that the development of this pathway may be sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Therefore, both the structural and biochemical development of leaf tissue in the fifth leaf of Sorghum bicolor plants grown at elevated CO2 have been characterized. Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) and phosphoenol-pyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) activities accumulate rapidly as the leaf tissue differentiates and emerges from the surrounding whorl. Rubisco was not expressed in a cell-specific manner in the youngest tissue at the base of the leaf, but did accumulate before PEPC was detected. This suggests that the youngest leaf tissue utilizes a C3-like pathway for carbon fixation. However, this tissue was in a region of the leaf receiving very low light and so significant rates of photosynthesis were not likely. Older leaf tissue that had emerged from the surrounding whorl into full sunlight showed the normal C4 syndrome. Elevated CO2 had no effect on the cell-specific localization of Rubisco or PEPC at any stage of leaf development, and the relative ratios of Rubisco to PEPC remained constant during leaf development. However, in the oldest tissue at the tip of the leaf, the total activities of Rubisco and PEPC were decreased under elevated CO2 implying that C4 photosynthetic tissue may acclimate to growth under elevated CO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1969-1975
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number389
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • C expression
  • Elevated CO
  • Leaf tissue
  • Sorghum bicolor
  • Structural and biochemical development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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