Stomatal versus biochemical limitations


Photo credit: Google

Piper auritum Exotic Mexican Pepperleaf 

Stomatal dynamics and its importance to carbon gain in two rainforest Piper species. – II. Stomatal versus biochemical limitations during photosynthetic induction

by Tinoco-Ojanguren C., Pearcy R. W. (1993)

  • Clara Tinoco-Ojanguren
  • Robert W. Pearcy

in Oecologia 94, 395–402. doi: 10.1007/BF00317115 –

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar –


The relative importance of biochemical and stomatal limitations on assimilation (A) during photosynthetic induction were compared in sun and shade plants of Piper auritum, a pioneer tree, and shade plants of Piper aequale, a shade tolerant shrub native to a Mexican tropical rainforest.

For non-induced leaves, increases in A during induction depended on the dynamics of stomatal conductance (gs) and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBisCO) activation.

At high leaf-air vapor pressure deficit (VPD), more of the limitation during induction was stomatal. Calculations of mesophyll conductance revealed longer time constants for shade than for sun plants. However, no differences in the time course of RuBisCO activity between sun- and shade-plants were found.

We conclude on the basis of the similar RuBisCO responses that differences in induction can be accounted for by the differences in stomatal behavior. Differences in the time course of mesophyll conductance may be due to an artifact caused by stomatal patchiness.

Experiments on induction loss of previously induced leaves revealed that under these circumstances biochemical limitations can be important. A more rapid induction loss was evident in sun as compared to shade plants. The rapid loss of induction in sum plants was not due to the decreases in gs and RuBisCO activity, which both occurred slowly. Instead, a limitation, probably in RuBP regeneration capacity, appeared to develop during the low light periods. This limitation was much smaller or absent in shade plants.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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