How well do growing season dynamics of photosynthetic capacity correlate with leaf biochemistry and climate fluctuations?
Accurate values of photosynthetic capacity are needed in Earth System Models to predict gross primary productivity. Seasonal changes in photosynthetic capacity in these models are primarily driven by temperature, but recent work has suggested that photoperiod may be a better predictor of seasonal photosynthetic capacity. Using field-grown kudzu (Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi), a nitrogen-fixing vine species, we took weekly measurements of photosynthetic capacity, leaf nitrogen, and pigment and photosynthetic protein concentrations and correlated these with temperature, irradiance and photoperiod over the growing season. Photosynthetic capacity was more strongly correlated with photoperiod than with temperature or daily irradiance, while the growing season pattern in photosynthetic capacity was uncoupled from changes in leaf nitrogen, chlorophyll and Rubisco. Daily estimates of the maximum carboxylation rate of Rubisco (Vcmax) based on either photoperiod or temperature were correlated in a non-linear manner, but Vcmax estimates from both approaches that also accounted for diurnal temperature fluctuations were similar, indicating that differences between these models depend on the relevant time step. We advocate for considering photoperiod, and not just temperature, when estimating photosynthetic capacity across the year, particularly as climate change alters temperatures but not photoperiod. We also caution that the use of leaf biochemical traits as proxies for estimating photosynthetic capacity may be unreliable when the underlying relationships between proxy leaf traits and photosynthetic capacity are established outside of a seasonal framework.
Way, DA; Stinziano, JR; Berghoff, H; Oren, R
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