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

Effects of leaf development and phosphorus supply on the photosynthetic characteristics of perennial legume species with pasture potential: modelling photosynthesis with leaf development

Lalith D. B. Suriyagoda A B C E , Hans Lambers A , Megan H. Ryan A B and Michael Renton A B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

C Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka.

D CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Floreat, WA 6014, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: suriyl01@student.uwa.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 37(8) 713-725 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP09284
Submitted: 21 November 2009  Accepted: 1 April 2010   Published: 26 July 2010

Abstract

Age-dependent changes in leaf photosynthetic characteristics (i.e. parameters of the light response curve (maximum photosynthetic rate (Pmax), quantum yield (Φ) and the convexity parameter (θ)), stomatal conductance (gs) and dark respiration rate (Rd)) of an exotic perennial legume, Medicago sativa L. (lucerne), and two potential pasture legumes native to Australia, Cullen australasicum (Schltdl.) J.W. Grime and Cullen pallidum A. Lee, grown in a glasshouse for 5 months at two phosphorus (P) levels (3 (P3) and 30 (P30) mg P kg–1 dry soil) were tested. Leaf appearance rate and leaf area were lower at P3 than at P30 in all species, with M. sativa being the most sensitive to P3. At any leaf age, photosynthetic characteristics did not differ between P treatments. However, Pmax and gs for all the species and Φ for Cullen species increased until full leaf expansion and then decreased. The convexity parameter, θ, did not change with leaf age, whereas Rd decreased. The estimates of leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pleaf) obtained through simulations at variable Pmax and Φ were lower during early and late leaf developmental stages and at lower light intensities than those obtained when Φ was assumed to be constant (e.g. for a horizontally placed leaf, during the 1500°C days developmental period, 3 and 19% reduction of Pleaf at light intensities of 1500 and 500 µmol m–2 s–1, respectively). Therefore, developmental changes in leaf photosynthetic characteristics should be considered when estimating and simulating Pleaf of these pasture species.

Additional keywords: Australian native legumes, leaf age, light response curve, novel crops.


Acknowledgements

We thank two anonymous referees for their valuable suggestions, which greatly improved the original manuscript. This study was supported by the School of Plant Biology and the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, The University of Western Australia. LDB Suriyagoda also appreciates the SIRF/UIS Scholarship awarded by the University of Western Australia and further scholarship support from the late Frank Ford.


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