Author: Zuo Bao-yu, Jiang Gui-zhen, Bai Ke-zhi and Kuang Ting-yun
J Integr Plant Biol 1996, 38 (1): -.
It has been reported in quite a number of literatures that doubled CO2 concentration increased the photosynthetic rate and dry matter production of C3 plants, but substantially affected C4 plants little. However, why may CO2 enrichment promote growth and either no change or decrease reproductive allocation of the C3 species, but havinag no effects on growth characteristics of the C4 plants? So far, there has been no satisfactory explanation on that mentioned above, except the differences in their CO2 compensatory points. In the past, although some studies on ultrastructure of the chloroplasts under doubled CO2 concentration were limitedly conducted. Almost all the relevant experimental materials were only from C3 plants not from C4 plants, and even though the results were of inconsistancy. Thereby, it needs to verify whether the differences in photosynthesis of C3 and C4 plants at doubled CO2 level is caused by the difference in their chloroplast deterioration. Experiments to this subject were conducted at the Botanical Garden of Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica in 1993 and 1994. Both experimental materials from C3 plant alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and C4 plant foxtail millet (Setaria italica) were cultivated in the cylindrical open-top chambers (2.2 m in diameter × 2.4 m in height) with aluminum frames covered by polyethylene film. Natural air or air with 350× 10-6 CO2 were blown from the bottom of the chamber space with constant temperature between inside and outside of the chamber 〈0.2℃〉. Electron microscopic observation revealed that the ultrastructure of the chloroplasts from C3 plant Medicago sativa and C4 plant Seteria italica growing under the same doubled CO2 concentration were quite different from each other. The differential characteristics in ultrastructure of chloro plasts displayed mainly in the configuration of thylakoid membrances and the accumulation of starch grains. They were as follows: 1. The most striking feature was the building up of starch grains in the chloroplasts of the bundle sheath cells (BSCs) and the mesophyll cells (MCs) at doubled CO2 concentra tion. The starch grains appeared centrifugally first in the BSCs and then in the chloroplast of the other MCs. It was worthy to note that the starch grains in the chloroplasts of C4 plant Setaria ira/ica were much more than those of the C3 plant Medicago sativa . The decline of photosynthesis in the doubled CO2-grown C4 plants might be caused by an over accumulation of starch grains, that deformed the chloroplast even demaged the stroma thylakoids and grana. There might exsist a correlation between the comformation of thylakoid system and starch grain accumulation, namely conversion and transfer of starch need energy from ATP, and coupling factor (CF) for ATP formation distributed mainly on protoplastic surface (PSu) of stroma thylakoid membranes, as well as end and margin membranes of grana thylakoids. Thereby, these results could provide a conclusive evidence for the reason of non effectiveness on growth characteristics of C4 plant. 2. Under normal condition , the mature chlolroplats of higher plants usually develop complete and regularly arranged photosynthetic membrane systems . Chloroplasts from the C4 plant Setaria italica, however, exerted significant changes on stacking degree, grana width and stroma thylakoid length under doubled CO2 concentration; In these changes, the grana stacks were smaller and more numerous, and the number of thylakoids per granum was greatly increased, and the stroma thylakoid was greatly lengthened as compared to those of the control chloroplasts. But the grana were mutually intertwined by stroma thylakoid. The integrity of some of the grana were damaged due to the augmentation of the intrathylakoid space . Similarly, the stroma thylakoids were also expanded. In case. the plant was seriously effected by doubled CO2 concentration as observed in C4 plant Setaria italica , its chloroplasts contained merely the stroma (matrix) with abundant starch grains, while grana and stroma thylakoid membranes were unrecognizable, or occasionally a few residuous pieces of thylakoid membranes could be visualized, leaving a situation which appeared likely to be chloroplast deterioration. However, under the same condition the C3 plant Medicago sativa possessed normally developed chloroplasts, with intact grana and stroma thylakoid membranes. Its chloroplasts contained grana intertwined with stroma thylakoid membranes, and increased in stacking degree and granum width, in spite of more accumulated starch grains within the chloroplasts. These configuration changes of the thylakoid system were in consistant with the results of the authors another study on chloroplast function, viz. the increased capacity of chloroplasts for light absorption and efficiency of PSⅡ.