Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration [CO2] and the change of water distribution in arid and semiarid areas affect plant physiology and ecosystem processes. The interaction of elevated [CO2] and drought results in the complex response such as changes in the energy flux of photosynthesis. The performance of photosystem (PS) II and the electron transport were evaluated by using OJIP induction curves of chlorophyll a fluorescence and the PN-Ci curves in the two-factor controlled experiment with [CO2] of 380 (AC) or 750 (EC) [μmol mol-1] and water stress by 10% polyethylene glycol 6000. Compared to water-stressed maize (Zea mays L.) under AC, the EC treatment combined with water stress decreased the number of active reaction centers but it increased the antenna size and the energy flux (absorbed photon flux, trapping flux, and electron transport flux) of each reaction center in PSII. Thus, the electron transport rate was enhanced, despite the indistinctively changed quantum yield of the electron transport and energy dissipation. The combination of EC and the water-stress treatment resulted in the robust carboxylation rate without elevating the saturated photosynthetic rate (Pmax). This study demonstrated that maize was capable of transporting more electrons into the carboxylation reaction, but this could not be used to increase Pmax under EC. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
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