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The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits - V cmax and J max - to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: a meta-analysis and modeling study



The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits - V cmax and J max - to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: a meta-analysis and modeling study



Ecology and Evolution 4(16): 3218-3235



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 (V cmax) and the maximum rate of electron transport (J max). 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 V cmax and J max 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 V cmax and J max 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 V cmax and J max with leaf N, P, and SLA. V cmax was strongly related to leaf N, and increasing leaf P substantially increased the sensitivity of V cmax to leaf N. J max was strongly related to V cmax, 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 J max to V cmax coordination that restricts photoinhibition when carboxylation is limiting at the expense of maximizing photosynthetic rates when light is limiting.

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Accession: 059099932

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25473475

DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1173


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