, 46:303 | Cite as

Photosynthetic pathway of dominant plant species in the Qaidam Basin: evidence from foliar stable carbon isotope measurement

Brief Communication


Foliar δ13C values of Calligogum kozlovi and Haloxylon ammodendron ranged from −13.13 to −15.11 ‰, while those of the rest 11 species were in the range of −22.22 to −27.73 ‰. This indicates that two of 13 dominant plant species in the Qaidam Basin possess a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Significant differences were observed for the average foliar δ13C values between C3 or C4 plant communities, between grass and shrub communities, even between the same species derived from different sites. Precipitation accounted for the major part of the differences.

Additional key words

C3 plants C4 plants desert vegetation precipitation 


  1. Bender, M.M.: Variations in the 13C/12C ratios of plants in relation to the pathway of photosynthetic carbon dioxide fixation.-Phytochemistry 10: 1239–1244, 1971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen, T., Ma, J., Feng, H.Y., He, Y.Q., Xu, S.J., Qiang, W.Y., An, L.Z.: [Environmental analysis of stable carbon isotope values in typical desert C3 plants of the Fukang, Xinjiang.]-Arid Land Geography 25: 342–345, 2002. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  3. Craig, H.: Isotope standards for carbon and oxygen and correlation factors for mass spectrometric analysis of carbon dioxide.-Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 12: 133–149, 1957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ehleringer, J.R., Cooper, T.A.: Correlations between carbon isotope ratio and microhabit in desert plants.-Oecologia 76: 562–566, 1988.Google Scholar
  5. Ehleringer, J.R., Lin, Z.F., Field, C.B., Sun, G.C., Kuo, C.Y.: Leaf carbon isotope ratios of plants from a subtropical monsoon forest.-Oecologia 72: 109–114, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kalapos, T.: Leaf water potential-leaf water deficit relationship for ten species of a semi-arid grassland community.-Plant Soil 160: 105–112, 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Li, M.C., Liu, H.Y., Yi, X.F., Li, L.X.: Characterization of photosynthetic pathway of plant species growing in the eastern Tibetan plateau using stable carbon isotope composition.-Photosynthetica 44: 102–108, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lin, Z.F., Guo, J.Y., Zhan, M.S., Alelinge: [New plants of C4 and CAM photosynthesis pathway.]-J. Wuhan bot. Res. 6: 371–374, 1988. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  9. Liu, G.S., Jiang, N.H., Zhang, L.D., Liu, Z.L.: [Physical and Chemical Analysis of Soil and Profile Description.]-Chinese Standard Publisher, Beijing 1996. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  10. Long, S.P.: C4 photosynthesis at low temperatures.-Plant Cell Environ. 6: 345–363, 1983.Google Scholar
  11. Monson, R.K., Smith, S.D.: Season water potential components of Sonoran desert plants.-Ecology 63: 113–123, 1982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rundel, P.W., Esler, K.J., Cowling, R.M.: Ecological and phylogenetic patterns of carbon isotope discrimination in the winter rainfall flora of the Richterveld, South Africa.-Plant Ecol. 142: 133–148, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Smith, B.N., Epstein, S.: Two categories of 13C/12C ratios for higher plants.-Plant Physiol. 47: 380–384, 1971.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sternberg, L.O., DeNiro, M.J., Johnson, H.B.: Isotope ratios of cellulose from plants having different photosynthetic pathways.-Plant Physiol. 74: 557–561, 1984.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Su, P.X., Liu, X.M., Zhang, L.X., Zhao, A.F., Li, W.R., Chen, H.S.: Comparison of δ13C values and gas exchange of assimilating shoots of desert plants Haloxylon ammodendron and Calligonum mongolicum with other plants.-Isr. J. Plant Sci. 52(2): 87–97, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Su, P.X., Yan, Q.D., Chen, H.S.: [δ13C values and water use efficiency of the leaves and assimilating shoots of desert plants.]-Acta bot. boreali-occident. sin. 25: 727–732, 2005. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  17. Tang, H.P., Liu, S.R., Zhang, X.S.: [The C4 plants in Inner Mongolia and their ecogeographical characteristics.]-Acta bot. sin. 41: 420–424, 1999. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  18. Waller, S.S., Lewis, J.K.: Occurrence of C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways in North American grasses.-J. Range Manage. 32: 12–28, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wang, L., Lu, H.Y., Wu, N.Q., Chu, D., Han, J.M., Wu, Y.H., Wu, H.B., Gu, Z.V.: Discovery of C4 species at high altitude in Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.-Chin. Sci. Bull. 49: 1392–1396, 2004.Google Scholar
  20. Wang, R.Z.: C4 plants in the vegetation of Tibet, China: Their natural occurrence and altitude distribution pattern.-Photosynthetica 41: 21–26, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wu, G.H., Hu, S.X., Zhang, Z.L., Zhao, H., Fang, X.: [Qaidam Basin.]-J. Lanzhou Univ. (Spec. Vol.): 1–6, 1985. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  22. Yi, X.F., Yang, Y.Q., Zhang, X.A., Li, L.X,, Zhao, L.: No C4 plants found at the Haibei Alpine Meadow Ecosystem Research Station in Qinghai, China: evidence from stable carbon isotope studies.-Acta bot. sin. 45: 1291–1296, 2003.Google Scholar
  23. Yin, L.J., Wang, P.: [Distribution of C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathway of plants in the steppe of northeastern China.]-Acta ecol. sin. 17: 113–123, 1997. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  24. Zhou, X.M., Wang, Z.B., Du, Q.: [Qinghai Vegetation.]-Qinghai People’s Publisher, Xining 1987. [In Chin.]Google Scholar
  25. Ziegler, H., Batanouny, K.H., Sankhla, N., Vyas, O.P., Stichler, W.: The photosynthetic pathway types of some desert plants from India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq.-Oecologia 48: 93–99, 1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Experimental Botany, ASCR, Praha 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Use, China Land Surveying and Planning InstituteMinistry of Land and ResourcesBeijingP.R. China
  2. 2.College of Resources and Environment SciencesnHebei Normal University, Hebei Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Ecological ConstructionShijiazhuangP.R. China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP.R. China

Personalised recommendations