, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 484–492 | Cite as

Effects of salinity on temperature-dependent photosynthetic parameters of a native C3 and a non-native C4 marsh grass in the Yangtze Estuary, China

  • Z. -M. Ge
  • L. -Q. Zhang
  • L. Yuan
  • C. Zhang
Original Papers


The invasion of Spartina alterniflora along the coasts of China has allowed this C4 grass to outcompete often much of the native, salt marsh vegetation, such as Phragmites australis (C3 grass), in the Yangtze Estuary. In this study, native grass, P. australis, and non-native grass, S. alterniflora, were grown in fresh and saline water (moderate salinity of 15‰ and high salinity of 30‰) to compare the effects of salinity on photosynthetic and biochemical parameters in combination with measurement temperatures. The C4 grass, S. alterniflora, showed a greater CO2 assimilation rate than P. australis, across the tested temperatures. The net photosynthetic rate declined significantly with increasing salinity as a result of inhibited stomatal conductance together with a greater decrease in the maximum rate of electron transport (J max). In P. australis, salt treatments shifted the optimum temperatures for the maximum rate of carboxylation by Rubisco (V cmax) and J max to lower temperatures. S. alterniflora showed a greater salt tolerance to moderate stress than that of the native grass, with lower sensitivity of V cmax, J max, and the maximum rate of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylation. Both moderate and high stress decreased significantly stomatal conductance of S. alterniflora; high salinity reduced significantly photosynthetic efficiency and J max. Our findings indicated that the combination of stomatal conductance, enzyme activity, and electron transport affected the photosynthetic performance of the plants in response to salt treatments. The success of S. alterniflora could be probably attributed to its C4 photosynthetic pathway and the tolerance to moderate salinity. In this study, a modified parameterization of the photosynthetic model was suggested to support a more reasonable simulation of photosynthesis under salt stress.

Additional key words

carboxylation efficiency coastal wetlands gas exchange invasive species 



ambient CO2 concentration


chloroplast CO2 concentration


intercellular CO2 concentration


CO2 concentration in the mesophyll cell


CO2 concentration at the carboxylation site of Rubisco in the bundle-sheath


bundle sheath cell conductance


mesophyll conductance


light-saturated stomatal conductance


enthalpy of activation


enthalpy of deactivation


high salinity

J, Jt

rate of electron transport for C3 and C4 plants


maximum rate of electron transport

Kc, Ko

Rubisco Michaelis constants for CO2 and O2


Michaelis-Menten constants for PEP carboxylation


moderate salinity


O2 concentration




phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


net photosynthetic rate


light-saturated net photosynthetic rate


molar gas constant


dark respiration


relative humidity


mitochondrial respiration in the mesophyll




entropy of the desaturation equilibrium


reciprocal of Rubisco specificity


the leaf temperature


rate of Rubisco carboxylation


maximum rate of carboxylation by Rubisco


rate of PEP carboxylation


maximum rate of PEP carboxylation


quantum efficiency


photosynthetically active irradiance absorbed by PSII


half of S c/o


curvature of the light response curve


CO2 compensation point (absence of dark respiration)


partitioning factor of electron transport


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education)East China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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