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Seasonal influences on carbohydrate metabolism in the CAM bromeliad Aechmea 'Maya': consequences for carbohydrate partitioning and growth

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Johan Ceusters, Emerita Professor Anne Borland


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Photosynthetic plasticity in response to a range of environmental factors that include [CO2], water availability, light intensity and temperature, is ubiquitous among plants with crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). The present study examined how seasonal changes in light availability, as experienced by greenhouse CAM crops in northern latitude regions, influence diel carboxylation patterns and impact on carbon gain and seasonal accumulation of biomass. In the CAM bromeliad Aechmea 'Maya' integrated measurements of leaf gas exchange, diel metabolite dynamics (e.g. malate, soluble sugars and starch) and biomass accumulation were made four times a year, i.e. in winter, spring, summer and autumn. During the brighter seasons (spring and summer) daytime Phases II and IV were dominated by C-4 carboxylation, whilst the higher diurnal uptake in the autumn and winter was characterized by equal contributions of both Rubisco and PEPC. As a consequence, net CO2 uptake showed a significant depression at the end of the day in the darker months when supplementary illumination was turned off. Remarkable seasonal consistency was found in the amount of storage reserves available for nocturnal carboxylation, a consequence of predominantly daytime export of carbohydrate in spring and summer whilst nocturnal export was the major sink for carbohydrate in autumn and winter. Throughout the different seasons Aechmea 'Maya' showed considerable plasticity in the timing and magnitude of C-3 and C-4 carboxylation processes over the diel cycle. Under low PPFD (i.e. winter and autumn) it appears that there was a constraint on the amount of carbohydrate exported during the day in order to maintain a consistent pool of transient carbohydrate reserves. This gave remarkable seasonal consistency in the amount of storage reserves available at night, thereby optimizing biomass gain throughout the year. The data have important practical consequences for horticultural productivity of CAM plants and suggest a scenario for reconciling carbohydrate partitioning between competing sinks of nocturnal acidification and export for growth.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ceusters J, Borland AM, Ceusters N, Verdoodt V, Godts C, De Proft MP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of Botany

Year: 2010

Volume: 105

Issue: 2

Pages: 301-309

Print publication date: 01/02/2010

ISSN (print): 0305-7364

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8290

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcp275


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