Whether the mesophyll conductance to CO2 movement (gm) within leaves of C3 plants changes with CO2 concentration remains a matter of debate, particularly at low CO2 concentrations. We tested for changes in gm over the range of sub-stomatal CO2 concentrations (Ci) for which Rubisco activity limited photosynthesis (A) in three plant species grown under the same conditions. Mesophyll conductance was estimated by three independent methods: the oxygen sensitivity of photosynthesis, variable J fluorescence combined with gas exchange, and the curvature of the Rubisco-limited A vs. Ci curve. The latter assay used a new method of rapidly obtaining data points at approximately every 3 μmol mol−1 for Rubisco-limited A vs. Ci curves, allowing separate estimates of curvature over limited Ci ranges. In two species, soybean and sunflower, no change in gm with Ci was detected using any of the three methods of estimating gm. In common bean measured under the same conditions as the other species, all three methods indicated large decreases in gm with increasing Ci. Therefore, change in gm with Ci in the Rubsico-limited region of A vs. Ci curves depended on the species, but not on the method of estimating gm.
Bunce, J. (2018). Three Methods of Estimating Mesophyll Conductance Agree Regarding its CO2 Sensitivity in the Rubisco-Limited Ci Range. Plants, 7(3), 62. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants7030062