The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits – Vcmax and Jmax – to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: a meta-analysis and modeling study

Walker, Anthony P., Beckerman, Andrew P., Gu, Lianhong, Kattge, Jens, Cernusak, Lucas A., Domingues, Tomas F., Scales, Joanna C., Wohlfahrt, Georg, Wullschleger, Stan D., and Woodward, F. Ian (2014) The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits – Vcmax and Jmax – to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: a meta-analysis and modeling study. Ecology and Evolution, 4 (16). pp. 3218-3235.

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Great uncertainty exists in the global exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere. An important source of this uncertainty lies in the dependency of photosynthesis on the maximum rate of carboxylation (Vcmax) and the maximum rate of electron transport (Jmax). Understanding and making accurate prediction of C fluxes thus requires accurate characterization of these rates and their relationship with plant nutrient status over large geographic scales. Plant nutrient status is indicated by the traits: leaf nitrogen (N), leaf phosphorus (P), and specific leaf area (SLA). Correlations between Vcmax and Jmax and leaf nitrogen (N) are typically derived from local to global scales, while correlations with leaf phosphorus (P) and specific leaf area (SLA) have typically been derived at a local scale. Thus, there is no global-scale relationship between Vcmax and Jmax and P or SLA limiting the ability of global-scale carbon flux models do not account for P or SLA. We gathered published data from 24 studies to reveal global relationships of Vcmax and Jmax with leaf N, P, and SLA. Vcmax was strongly related to leaf N, and increasing leaf P substantially increased the sensitivity of Vcmax to leaf N. Jmax was strongly related to Vcmax, and neither leaf N, P, or SLA had a substantial impact on the relationship. Although more data are needed to expand the applicability of the relationship, we show leaf P is a globally important determinant of photosynthetic rates. In a model of photosynthesis, we showed that at high leaf N (3 gm−2), increasing leaf P from 0.05 to 0.22 gm−2 nearly doubled assimilation rates. Finally, we show that plants may employ a conservative strategy of Jmax to Vcmax coordination that restricts photoinhibition when carboxylation is limiting at the expense of maximizing photosynthetic rates when light is limiting.

Item ID: 36079
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: carbon assimilation, carbon cycle, carboxylation, DGVM, electron transport, Farquhar model, land surface model, meta-analysis, mixed-effect multiple regression, noncarbon photosynthesis, TBM
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© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 12:25
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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