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Environmental effects on circadian rhythms in photosynthesis and stomatal opening


Persistent circadian rhythms in photosynthesis and stomatal opening occurred in bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) plants transferred from a natural photoperiod to a variety of constant conditions. Photosynthesis, measured as carbon assimilation, and stomatal opening, as conductance to water vapor, oscillated with a freerunning period close to 24 h under constant moderate light, as well as under light-limiting and CO2-limiting conditions. The rhythms damped under constant conditions conducive to high photosynthetic rates, as did rates of carbon assimilation and stomatal conductance, and this damping correlated with the accumulation of carbohydrate. No rhythm in respiration occurred in plants transferred to constant darkness, and the rhythm in stomatal opening damped rapidly in constant darkness. Damping of rhythms also occurred in leaflets exposed to constant light and CO2-free air, demonstrating that active photosynthesis and not simply light was necessary for sustained expression of these rhythms.

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C1 :

intercellular CO2 partial pressure (Pa)


photon flux density


ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase




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This is CIWDPB Publication No. 1142

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant BSR 8717422 (C.B.F.) and a U.S. Department of Agriculture training grant to Stanford University (T.L.H.).

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Hennessey, T.L., Freeden, A.L. & Field, C.B. Environmental effects on circadian rhythms in photosynthesis and stomatal opening. Planta 189, 369–376 (1993).

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Key words

  • Circadian rhythm
  • Phaseolus
  • Photosynthesis
  • Stomate