Pioneering research on C4 leaf anatomical, physiological, and agronomic characteristics of tropical monocot and dicot plant species: Implications for crop water relations and productivity in comparison to C3 cropping systems uri icon

abstract

  • The review is done to summarise the history of the discoveries of the many anatomical, agronomical, and physiological aspects of C-4 photosynthesis (where the first chemical products of CO2 fixation in illuminated leaves are four-carbon dicarboxylic acids) and to document correctly the scientists at the University of Arizona and the University of California, Davis, who made these early discoveries. The findings were milestones in plant science that occurred shortly after the biochemical pathway of C-3 photosynthesis in green algae (where the first chemical product is a three-carbon compound) was elucidated at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a Nobel Prize in chemistry. These remarkable achievements were the result of ground-breaking pioneering research efforts carried out by many agronomists, plant physiologists and biochemists in several laboratories, particularly in the USA. Numerous reviews and books written in the past four decades on the history of C-4 photosynthesis have focused on the biochemical aspects and give an unbalanced history of the multidisciplinary/multinstitutional nature of the achievements made by agronomists, who published much of their work in Crop Science. Most notable among the characteristics of the C-4 species that differentiated them from the C-3 ones are: (I) high optimum temperature and high irradiance saturation for maximum leaf photosynthetic rates; (II) apparent lack of CO2 release in a rapid stream of CO2-free air in illuminated leaves in varying temperatures and high irradiances; (III) a very low CO2 compensation point; (IV) lower mesophyll resistances to CO2 diffusion coupled with higher stomatal resistances, and, hence, higher instantaneous leaf water use efficiency; (V) the existence of the so-called "Kranz leaf anatomy" and the higher internal exposed mesophyll surface area per cell volume; and (VI) the ability to recycle respiratory CO2 by illuminated leaves.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009