Drought Sensitivity of the Carbon Isotope Composition of Leaf Dark-Respired CO2 in C3 (Leymus chinensis) and C4 (Chloris virgata and Hemarthria altissima) Grasses in Northeast China.
ABSTRACT: Whether photosynthetic pathway differences exist in the amplitude of nighttime variations in the carbon isotope composition of leaf dark-respired CO2 (?13Cl) and respiratory apparent isotope fractionation relative to biomass (?R,biomass) in response to drought stress is unclear. These differences, if present, would be important for the partitioning of C3-C4 mixed ecosystem C fluxes. We measured ?13Cl, the ?13C of biomass and of potential respiratory substrates and leaf gas exchange in one C3 (Leymus chinensis) and two C4 (Chloris virgata and Hemarthria altissima) grasses during a manipulated drought period. For all studied grasses, ?13Cl decreased from 21:00 to 03:00 h. The magnitude of the nighttime shift in ?13Cl decreased with increasing drought stress. The ?13Cl values were correlated with the ?13C of respiratory substrates, whereas the magnitude of the nighttime shift in ?13Cl strongly depended on the daytime carbon assimilation rate and the range of nighttime variations in the respiratory substrate content. The ?R,biomass in the C3 and C4 grasses varied in opposite directions with the intensification of the drought stress. The contribution of C4 plant-associated carbon flux is likely to be overestimated if carbon isotope signatures are used for the partitioning of ecosystem carbon exchange and the ?13C of biomass is used as a substitute for leaf dark-respired CO2. The detected drought sensitivities in ?13Cl and differences in respiratory apparent isotope fractionation between C3 and C4 grasses have marked implications for isotope partitioning studies at the ecosystem level.
Project description:Global change factors, such as variation in precipitation regimes and nitrogen (N) deposition, are likely to occur simultaneously and may have profound impacts on the relative abundance of grasses differing in functional traits, such as C3 and C4 species. We conducted an extreme drought and re-watering experiment to understand differences in the resistance and recovery abilities of C3 and C4 grasses under different N deposition scenarios. A C3 perennial grass (Leymus chinensis) and two C4 grasses (annual species Chloris virgata and perennial species Hemarthria altissima) that co-occur in Northeast China were selected as experimental plants. For both C3 and C4 grasses, N addition caused a strong increase in biomass and resulted in more severe drought stress, leading to a change in the dominant photosynthetic limitation during the drought periods. Although N addition increased antioxidant enzyme activities and protective solute concentrations, the carbon fixing capacity did not fully recover to pre-drought levels by the end of the re-watering period. N addition resulted in lower resilience under the drought conditions and lower resistance at the end of the re-watering. However, N addition led to faster recovery of photosynthesis, especially in the C3 grass, which indicate that the effect of N addition on photosynthesis during drought was asymmetric, especially in the plants with different photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE). These findings demonstrated that nitrogen deposition may significant alter the susceptibility of C3 and C4 grass species to drought stress and re-watering, highlighting the asymmetry between resistance and resilience and to improve our understanding about plant responses to climate change.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The success of C4 plants lies in their ability to attain greater efficiencies of light, water and nitrogen use under high temperature, providing an advantage in arid, hot environments. However, C4 grasses are not necessarily less sensitive to drought than C3 grasses and are proposed to respond with greater metabolic limitations, while the C3 response is predominantly stomatal. The aims of this study were to compare the drought and recovery responses of co-occurring C3 and C4 NADP-ME grasses from the subfamily Panicoideae and to determine stomatal and metabolic contributions to the observed response. METHODS: Six species of locally co-occurring grasses, C3) species Alloteropsis semialata subsp. eckloniana, Panicum aequinerve and Panicum ecklonii, and C4 (NADP-ME) species Heteropogon contortus, Themeda triandra and Tristachya leucothrix, were established in pots then subjected to a controlled drought followed by re-watering. Water potentials, leaf gas exchange and the response of photosynthetic rate to internal CO2 concentrations were determined on selected occasions during the drought and re-watering treatments and compared between species and photosynthetic types. KEY RESULTS: Leaves of C4 species of grasses maintained their photosynthetic advantage until water deficits became severe, but lost their water-use advantage even under conditions of mild drought. Declining C4 photosynthesis with water deficit was mainly a consequence of metabolic limitations to CO2 assimilation, whereas, in the C3 species, stomatal limitations had a prevailing role in the drought-induced decrease in photosynthesis. The drought-sensitive metabolism of the C4 plants could explain the observed slower recovery of photosynthesis on re-watering, in comparison with C3 plants which recovered a greater proportion of photosynthesis through increased stomatal conductance. CONCLUSIONS: Within the Panicoid grasses, C4 (NADP-ME) species are metabolically more sensitive to drought than C3 species and recover more slowly from drought.
Project description:Global climate change is expected to shift regional rainfall patterns, influencing species distributions where they depend on water availability. Comparative studies have demonstrated that C4 grasses inhabit drier habitats than C3 relatives, but that both C3 and C4 photosynthesis are susceptible to drought. However, C4 plants may show advantages in hydraulic performance in dry environments. We investigated the effects of seasonal variation in water availability on leaf physiology, using a common garden experiment in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to compare 12 locally occurring grass species from C4 and C3 sister lineages. Photosynthesis was always higher in the C4 than C3 grasses across every month, but the difference was not statistically significant during the wettest months. Surprisingly, stomatal conductance was typically lower in the C3 than C4 grasses, with the peak monthly average for C3 species being similar to that of C4 leaves. In water-limited, rain-fed plots, the photosynthesis of C4 leaves was between 2.0 and 7.4 ?mol m(-2) s(-1) higher, stomatal conductance almost double, and transpiration 60% higher than for C3 plants. Although C4 average instantaneous water-use efficiencies were higher (2.4-8.1 mmol mol(-1)) than C3 averages (0.7-6.8 mmol mol(-1)), differences were not as great as we expected and were statistically significant only as drought became established. Photosynthesis declined earlier during drought among C3 than C4 species, coincident with decreases in stomatal conductance and transpiration. Eventual decreases in photosynthesis among C4 plants were linked with declining midday leaf water potentials. However, during the same phase of drought, C3 species showed significant decreases in hydrodynamic gradients that suggested hydraulic failure. Thus, our results indicate that stomatal and hydraulic behaviour during drought enhances the differences in photosynthesis between C4 and C3 species. We suggest that these drought responses are important for understanding the advantages of C4 photosynthesis under field conditions.
Project description:Recent efforts to engineer C4 photosynthetic traits into C3 plants such as rice demand an understanding of the genetic elements that enable C4 plants to outperform C3 plants. As a part of the C4 Rice Consortium's efforts to identify genes needed to support C4 photosynthesis, EMS mutagenized sorghum populations were generated and screened to identify genes that cause a loss of C4 function. Stable carbon isotope ratio (?13C) of leaf dry matter has been used to distinguishspecies with C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways. Here, we report the identification of a sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) mutant with a low ?13C characteristic. A mutant (named Mut33) with a pale phenotype and stunted growth was identified from an EMS treated sorghum M2 population. The stable carbon isotope analysis of the mutants showed a decrease of 13C uptake capacity. The noise of random mutation was reduced by crossing the mutant and its wildtype (WT). The back-cross (BC1F1) progenies were like the WT parent in terms of 13C values and plant phenotypes. All the BC1F2 plants with low ?13C died before they produced their 6th leaf. Gas exchange measurements of the low ?13C sorghum mutants showed a higher CO2 compensation point (25.24 ?mol CO2.mol-1air) and the maximum rate of photosynthesis was less than 5?mol.m-2.s-1. To identify the genetic determinant of this trait, four DNA pools were isolated; two each from normal and low ?13C BC1F2 mutant plants. These were sequenced using an Illumina platform. Comparison of allele frequency of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between the pools with contrasting phenotype showed that a locus in Chromosome 10 between 57,941,104 and 59,985,708 bps had an allele frequency of 1. There were 211 mutations and 37 genes in the locus, out of which mutations in 9 genes showed non-synonymous changes. This finding is expected to contribute to future research on the identification of the causal factor differentiating C4 from C3 species that can be used in the transformation of C3 to C4 plants.
Project description:Leaf carbon and oxygen isotope ratios can potentially provide a time-integrated proxy for stomatal conductance (gs) and transpiration rate (E), and can be used to estimate transpiration efficiency (TE). In this study, we found significant relationships of bulk leaf carbon isotopic signature (?13CBL) and bulk leaf oxygen enrichment above source water (?18OBL) with gas exchange and TE in the model C4 grasses Setaria viridis and S. italica. Leaf ?13C had strong relationships with E, gs, water use, biomass, and TE. Additionally, the consistent difference in ?13CBL between well-watered and water-limited plants suggests that ?13CBL is effective in separating C4 plants with different availability of water. Alternatively, the use of ?18OBL as a proxy for E and TE in S. viridis and S. italica was problematic. First, the oxygen isotopic composition of source water, used to calculate leaf water enrichment (?18OLW), was variable with time and differed across water treatments. Second, water limitations changed leaf size and masked the relationship of ?18OLW and ?18OBL with E. Therefore, the data collected here suggest that ?13CBL but not ?18OBL may be an effective proxy for TE in C4 grasses.
Project description:Most physiology comparisons of C3 and C4 plants are made under current or elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 which do not reflect the low CO2 environment under which C4 photosynthesis has evolved. Accordingly, photosynthetic nitrogen (PNUE) and water (PWUE) use efficiency, and the activity of the photosynthetic carboxylases [Rubisco and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC)] and decarboxylases [NADP-malic enzyme (NADP-ME) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEP-CK)] were compared in eight C4 grasses with NAD-ME, PCK, and NADP-ME subtypes, one C3 grass, and one C3-C4 grass grown under ambient (400 ?l l(-1)) and glacial (180 ?l l(-1)) CO2. Glacial CO2 caused a smaller reduction of photosynthesis and a greater increase of stomatal conductance in C4 relative to C3 and C3-C4 species. Panicum bisulcatum (C3) acclimated to glacial [CO2] by doubling Rubisco activity, while Rubisco was unchanged in Panicum milioides (C3-C4), possibly due to its high leaf N and Rubisco contents. Glacial CO2 up-regulated Rubisco and PEPC activities in concert for several C4 grasses, while NADP-ME and PEP-CK activities were unchanged, reflecting the high control exerted by the carboxylases relative to the decarboxylases on the efficiency of C4 metabolism. Despite having larger stomatal conductance at glacial CO2, C4 species maintained greater PWUE and PNUE relative to C3-C4 and C3 species due to higher photosynthetic rates. Relative to other C4 subtypes, NAD-ME and PEP-CK grasses had the highest PWUE and PNUE, respectively; relative to C3, the C3-C4 grass had higher PWUE and similar PNUE at glacial CO2. Biomass accumulation was reduced by glacial CO2 in the C3 grass relative to the C3-C4 grass, while biomass was less reduced in NAD-ME grasses compared with NADP-ME and PCK grasses. Under glacial CO2, high resource use efficiency offers a key evolutionary advantage for the transition from C3 to C4 photosynthesis in water- and nutrient-limited environments.
Project description:The Miocene radiation of C4 grasses under high-temperature and low ambient CO 2 levels occurred alongside the transformation of a largely forested landscape into savanna. This inevitably changed the host plant regime of herbivores, and the simultaneous diversification of many consumer lineages, including Bicyclus butterflies in Africa, suggests that the radiations of grasses and grazers may be evolutionary linked. We examined mechanisms for this plant-herbivore interaction with the grass-feeding Bicyclus safitza in South Africa. In a controlled environment, we tested oviposition preference and hatchling performance on local grasses with C3 or C4 photosynthetic pathways that grow either in open or shaded habitats. We predicted preference for C3 plants due to a hypothesized lower processing cost and higher palatability to herbivores. In contrast, we found that females preferred C4 shade grasses rather than either C4 grasses from open habitats or C3 grasses. The oviposition preference broadly followed hatchling performance, although hatchling survival was equally good on C4 or C3 shade grasses. This finding was explained by leaf toughness; shade grasses were softer than grasses from open habitats. Field monitoring revealed a preference of adults for shaded habitats, and stable isotope analysis of field-sampled individuals confirmed their preference for C4 grasses as host plants. Our findings suggest that plant-herbivore interactions can influence the direction of selection in a grass-feeding butterfly. Based on this work, we postulate future research to test whether these interactions more generally contribute to radiations in herbivorous insects via expansions into new, unexploited ecological niches.
Project description:Stable isotope analysis of animal tissues allows description of isotopic niches, whose axes in an n-dimensional space are the isotopic ratios, compared to a standard, of different isotope systems (e.g. ?(13)C, ?(15)N). Isotopic niches are informative about where an animal, population or species lives and about what it consumes. Here we describe inter- and intrapopulation isotopic niche (bidimensional ?(13)C-?(15)N space) of the Orange-throated whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythra), an arthropodivorous small lizard, in ten localities of Baja California Sur (Mexico). These localities range from extreme arid to subtropical conditions. Between 13 and 20 individuals were sampled at each locality and 1 cm of tail-tip was collected for isotope analysis. As expected, interpopulation niche width variation was much larger than intrapopulation one. Besides, isotopic variation was not related to age, sex or individual size of lizards. This suggests geographic variation of the isotopic niche was related to changes in the basal resources that fuel the trophic web at each locality. The position of Bayesian isotope ellipses in the ?-space indicated that whiptails in more arid localities were enriched in 13C, suggesting most of the carbon they ingested came from CAM succulent plants (cacti, agaves) and in minor degree in C4 grasses. Contrarily, whiptails in subtropical areas were depleted in 13C, as they received more carbon from C3 scrubs and trees. Localities closer to sea-level tended to be enriched in 15N, but a clear influence of marine subsidies was detected only at individual level. The study contributes to identify the origin and pathways through which energy flows across the trophic webs of North American deserts.
Project description:This study aims at assessing resource and habitat use, niche occupation and trophic interactions from a stable isotope perspective on fossil mammals from the Argentine Pampas during the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). We present stable isotope data of more than 400 samples belonging to 10 mammalian orders and spanning a temporal range from ~9.5?Ma to ~12 ky. Rodents, notoungulates and pilosians record an increase in the consumption of C4 plants, whereas litopterns and cingulates show ?13C values that remain mostly within a C3-dominated diet. Our stable isotope data indicates that the expansion of C4 vegetation opened up new niche opportunities, probably alleviating resource competition among endemic taxa. Gomphothere, equid and camelid ?13C records show a broad variability pointing to consumption of C3 and mixed C3-C4 vegetation. This flexible dietary behavior may have facilitated the successful settlement of immigrant groups in South America. In the case of carnivorous taxa, Late Miocene pre-GABI endemic sparassodonts consumed prey from C3 environments, whereas immigrant carnivorans preferred prey from mixed C3-C4 areas. Our research contributes to the study of the GABI from a different perspective as stable isotope records permit to characterize, from a (semi)quantitative standpoint, ecological traits within extinct fauna.
Project description:Some species of Salsoleae (Chenopodiaceae) convert from C3 photosynthesis during the seedling stage to the C4 pathway in adult leaves. This unique developmental transition of photosynthetic pathways offers the exceptional opportunity to follow the development of the derived C4 syndrome from the C3 condition within individual plants, avoiding phylogenetic noise. Here we investigate Salsola soda, a little-studied species from tribe Salsoleae, using an ontogenetic approach. Anatomical sections, carbon isotope (?13C) values, transcriptome analysis by means of mRNA sequencing, and protein levels of the key C4 enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) were examined from seed to adult plant stages. Despite a previous report, our results based on ?13C values, anatomy and transcriptomics clearly indicate a C3 phase during the cotyledon stage. During this stage, the entire transcriptional repertoire of the C4 NADP-malic enzyme type is detected at low levels compared to a significant increase in true leaves. In contrast, abundance of transcripts encoding most of the major photorespiratory enzymes is not significantly decreased in leaves compared to cotyledons. PEPC polypeptide was detected only in leaves, correlating with increased PEPC transcript abundance from the cotyledon to leaf stage.