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Annals of Botany

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Photosynthetic Adaptation, Crassulacean acid metabolism


Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) is a photosynthetic adaptation found in at least 38 plant families. Typically, the anatomy of CAM plants is characterised by large photosynthetic cells and a low percentage of leaf volume comprised of internal air space (% IAS). It has been suggested that reduced mesophyll conductance (gm) arising from low % IAS benefits CAM plants by preventing the movement of CO2 out of cells and ultimately minimising leakage of CO2 from leaves into the atmosphere during day-time decarboxylation. Here, we propose that low % IAS does not provide any adaptive benefit to CAM plants, because stomatal closure during phase III of CAM will result in internal concentrations of CO2 becoming saturated, meaning low gm will not have any meaningful impact on the flux of gasses within leaves. We suggest that low % IAS is more likely an indirect consequence of maximising the cellular volume within a leaf, to provide space for the overnight storage of malic acid during the CAM cycle.


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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Annals of Botany. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Annals of Botany (2023)



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