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Characteristics of C-4 photosynthesis in stems and petioles of C-3 flowering plants

Hibberd, J.M. and Quick, W.P. (2002) Characteristics of C-4 photosynthesis in stems and petioles of C-3 flowering plants. Nature, 415 (6870). pp. 451-454. ISSN 0028-0836


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Most plants are known as C-3 plants because the first product of photosynthetic CO2 fixation is a three-carbon compound. C-4 plants, which use an alternative pathway in which the first product is a four-carbon compound, have evolved independently many times and are found in at least 18 families. In addition to differences in their biochemistry, photosynthetic organs of C-4 plants show alterations in their anatomy and ultrastructure. Little is known about whether the biochemical or anatomical characteristics of C-4 photosynthesis evolved first. Here we report that tobacco, a typical C-3 plant, shows characteristics of C-4 photosynthesis in cells of stems and petioles that surround the xylem and phloem, and that these cells are supplied with carbon for photosynthesis from the vascular system and not from stomata. These photosynthetic cells possess high activities of enzymes characteristic of C-4 photosynthesis, which allow the decarboxylation of four-carbon organic acids from the xylem and phloem, thus releasing CO2 for photosynthesis. These biochemical characteristics of C-4 photosynthesis in cells around the vascular bundles of stems of C-3 plants might explain why C-4 photosynthesis has evolved independently many times.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 Macmillan Magazines Ltd
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > University of Sheffield Research Centres and Institutes > Robert Hill Institute (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2004
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 08:50
Published Version: http://www.nature.com/nature
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1038/415451a
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/113

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