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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 41(8)

Limited photosynthetic plasticity in the leaf-succulent CAM plant Agave angustifolia grown at different temperatures

Joseph A. M. Holtum A B C and Klaus Winter B

A Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
B Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, PO Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama.
C Corresponding author. Email: joseph.holtum@jcu.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 41(8) 843-849 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP13284
Submitted: 30 September 2013  Accepted: 19 February 2014   Published: 28 April 2014

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In Agave angustifolia Haw., a leaf-succulent constitutive crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plant of tropical Panama, we tested whether nocturnal CO2 uptake and growth were reduced at night temperatures above 20°C. Unlike some CAM model species from habitats with pronounced day-night temperature variations, in A. angustifolia temperature affected little the relative contributions of CAM and C3 photosynthesis to growth. In plants grown under 12 h light/dark regimes of 25/17, 30/22 and 35/27°C, biomass increased with temperature. Maintaining day temperature at 35°C and reducing night temperature from 27 to 17°C markedly lowered growth, a reduction partially reversed when roots were heated to 27°C. Across all treatments, whole-shoot δ13C values ranged between –14.6 and –13.2 ‰, indicating a stable proportion of CO2 was fixed at night, between 75 and 83%. Nocturnal acidification reflected growth, varying between 339 and 393 μmol H+ g–1 fresh mass and 63–87 μmol H+ cm–2. In outdoor open-top chambers, warming the air 3°C above ambient at night did not reduce biomass accumulation. The persistence of a high capacity for nocturnal CO2 fixation at the expense of a limited capacity for switching between C3 and CAM probably makes this Agave, and others like it, potential species for biomass production in seasonally-dry landscapes.

Additional keywords: biofuel, C3 photosynthesis, climate change, crassulacean acid metabolism, open-top chamber.


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