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Gas Exchange and Growth

  • J. S. Pereira
Part of the Springer Study Edition book series (volume 100)

Abstract

Plant growth and ecosystem primary productivity are ultimately dependent on photosynthesis. Although it has long been recognized that it is the amount rather than the activity of the photosynthetic tissues that determines plant productivity in most cases (Monteith 1977, 1981; Jarvis and Leverenz 1983; Kriedemann 1986; Osmond 1987), there has been a great interest in the study of leaf photosynthetic rates during the last two decades because of the improvements in the instrumentation for gas exchange measurements and the discovery that the different biochemistry of photosynthesis in C3 and C4 plants resulted in different growth rates. At the same time, the installation of reductionist views in ecology and even in crop science led to the assumption that plant growth could be equated with leaf photosynthetic rates. The recognition that this was often a misinterpretation led to disenchanting contentions of the type, “photosynthetic rates play no role in crop yield”. Moreover, most of the recent increases in agronomic productivity of cereal crops resulted largely from increases in the harvest index, sometimes even accompanied by a decrease in A (Evans 1976). It is obvious that for the purpose of growth and productivity studies, instantaneous rates of leaf photosynthesis (A) must be inserted in the adequate time and biological organization frameworks (Zelitch 1982; Osmond 1987). One solution for this is the use of simulation models. However, even though there are satisfactory models for canopy or whole-plant gas exchange (e.g., Norman and Campbell 1983; Wang and Jarvis 1990), it is still difficult to “translate” that into seasonal plant growth because of the gaps in our understanding of the mechanisms controlling carbon allocation (Gifford et al. 1984).

Keywords

Leaf Area Photosynthetic Rate Relative Growth Rate Photosynthetic Capacity Carbon Assimilation 
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