Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Photosynthetic responses of three C4 grasses of different metabolic subtypes to water deficit

Ana E. Carmo-Silva A B C D , Ana S. Soares A C , Jorge Marques da Silva A , Anabela Bernardes da Silva A , Alfred J. Keys B and Maria Celeste Arrabaça A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centro de Engenharia Biológica and Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal.

B Crop Performance and Improvement Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK.

C These authors contributed equally to this work.

D Corresponding author. Email: elizabete.carmo-silva@bbsrc.ac.uk

Functional Plant Biology 34(3) 204-213 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP06278
Submitted: 31 October 2006  Accepted: 29 January 2007   Published: 22 March 2007

Abstract

C4 plants are considered to be less sensitive to drought than C3 plants because of their CO2 concentrating mechanism. The C4 grasses, Paspalum dilatatum Poiret (NADP-ME), Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers (NAD-ME) and Zoysia japonica Steudel (PEPCK) were compared in their response to water deficit imposed by the addition of polyethylene glycol to the nutrient solution in which they were grown. The effects of drought on leaf relative water content (RWC), net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, carboxylating enzyme activities and chlorophyll a fluorescence were investigated. In C. dactylon the RWC was more sensitive, but the photosynthetic activity was less sensitive, to water deficit than in P. dilatatum and Z. japonica. The decrease of photosynthesis in P. dilatatum under water deficit was not closely related to the activities of the carboxylating enzymes or to chlorophyll a fluorescence. However, decreased activities of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, in addition to decreased stomatal conductance, may have contributed to the decrease of photosynthesis with drought in C. dactylon and Z. japonica. The different responses to water deficit are discussed in relation to the natural habitats of C4 grasses.

Additional keywords: C4 plants, drought, NADP-ME, NAD-ME, PEPCK.


Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by ‘Programa de Desenvolvimento Educativo para Portugal’ (PRODEP III) and by ‘Federação Portuguesa de Golfe’. The authors thank Dr GL Lockett, Margot Forde Forage Germplasm Centre, New Zealand, for providing the seeds of P. dilatatum and Dr Daniel Ribeiro, Geodesenho, Portugal, for providing the seeds of C. dactylon and Z. japonica. The authors thank Ms Manuela Lucas of the Centro de Engenharia Biológica, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749–016 Lisbon, Portugal, for technical assistance; and Dr Stephen J Powers of the Biomathematics and Bioinformatics Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts., AL5 2JQ, UK, for advice on non-linear modelling. Note: Ana E. Carmo-Silva and Ana S. Soares have contributed equally to the work presented.


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