Does ear C sink strength contribute to overcoming photosynthetic acclimation of wheat plants exposed to elevated CO2?

J Exp Bot. 2011 Jul;62(11):3957-69. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err095. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Wheat plants (Triticum durum Desf., cv. Regallo) were grown in the field to study the effects of contrasting [CO(2)] conditions (700 versus 370 μmol mol(-1)) on growth, photosynthetic performance, and C management during the post-anthesis period. The aim was to test whether a restricted capacity of sink organs to utilize photosynthates drives a loss of photosynthetic capacity in elevated CO(2). The ambient (13)C/(12)C isotopic composition (δ(13)C) of air CO(2) was changed from -10.2‰ in ambient [CO(2)] to -23.6‰ under elevated [CO(2)] between the 7th and the 14th days after anthesis in order to study C assimilation and partitioning between leaves and ears. Elevated [CO(2)] had no significant effect on biomass production and grain filling, and caused an accumulation of C compounds in leaves. This was accompanied by up-regulation of phosphoglycerate mutase and ATP synthase protein content, together with down-regulation of adenosine diphosphate glucose pyrophosphatase protein. Growth in elevated [CO(2)] negatively affected Rubisco and Rubisco activase protein content and induced photosynthetic down-regulation. CO(2) enrichment caused a specific decrease in Rubisco content, together with decreases in the amino acid and total N content of leaves. The C labelling revealed that in flag leaves, part of the C fixed during grain filling was stored as starch and structural C compounds whereas the rest of the labelled C (mainly in the form of soluble sugars) was completely respired 48 h after the end of labelling. Although labelled C was not detected in the δ(13)C of ear total organic matter and respired CO(2), soluble sugar δ(13)C revealed that a small amount of labelled C reached the ear. The (12)CO(2) labelling suggests that during the beginning of post-anthesis the ear did not contribute towards overcoming flag leaf carbohydrate accumulation, and this had a consequent effect on protein expression and photosynthetic acclimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Biomass
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Carbon Isotopes / analysis*
  • Carbon Isotopes / metabolism
  • Cell Respiration
  • Edible Grain / growth & development
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Phosphoglycerate Mutase / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase / metabolism
  • Starch / metabolism
  • Triticum / growth & development
  • Triticum / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Plant Proteins
  • rca protein, plant
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon
  • Starch
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase
  • Phosphoglycerate Mutase
  • Nitrogen