Photosynthesis Research

, 91:47 | Cite as

Light and growth temperature alter carbon isotope discrimination and estimated bundle sheath leakiness in C4 grasses and dicots

  • Jiří Kubásek
  • Jiří Šetlík
  • Simon Dwyer
  • Jiří Šantrůček
Regular Paper


We combined measurements of short-term (during gas exchange) and long-term (from plant dry matter) carbon isotope discrimination to estimate CO2 leakiness from bundle sheath cells in six C4 species (three grasses and three dicots) as a function of leaf insertion level, growth temperature and short-term irradiance. The two methods for determining leakiness yielded similar results (P > 0.05) for all species except Setaria macrostachya, which may be explained by the leaf of this species not being accommodating to gas exchange. Leaf insertion level had no effect on leakiness. At the highest growth temperature (36°C) leakiness was lower than at the two lower growth temperatures (16°C and 26°C), between which no differences in leakiness were apparent. Higher irradiance decreased leakiness in three species, while it had no significant effect on the others (there was an opposite trend in two species). The inverse response to increasing irradiance was most marked in the two NAD-ME dicots (both Amaranthus species), which both showed almost 50% leakiness at low light (300 μmol quanta m−2 s−1) compared to about 30% at high light (1,600 μmol quanta m−2 s−1). NADP-ME subtype grasses had lower leakiness than NAD-ME dicots. Although there were exceptions, particularly in the effect of irradiance on leakiness in Sorghum and Boerhavia, we conclude that conditions favourable to C4 photosynthesis (high temperature and high light) lead to a reduction in leakiness.


Bundle sheath leakiness Carbon isotope discrimination C4 plants Environmental factors Optimisation of C4 photosynthesis Carbon concentration mechanism 



13C/12C composition of sample expressed as (‰) difference against standard V-PDB


Carbon isotope discrimination (usually in ‰)


CO2 leakiness of bundle sheath cells (%)


Carbonic anhydrase


Mesophyll cells


Bundle sheath cells


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase



We would like to thank R.F. Sage for providing us with seeds of Boerhavia coccinea and Mrs. Anička Ruprechtová for growing the plants. We are also grateful to reviewers (unfortunately anonymous) for many constructive comments and advices. The research was supported by Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic No. A601410505 and by MSM 6007665801 and AV0Z50510513 Grants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiří Kubásek
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiří Šetlík
    • 1
  • Simon Dwyer
    • 3
  • Jiří Šantrůček
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of BiologyThe University of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Molecular BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Molecular Plant Physiology Group, Research School of Biological SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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