We measured PAR-saturated CO2 exchange rate (CER), and leaf N, P and chlorophyll (Chl) concentrations in 21 plant species, selected to encompass as broad a range in specific leaf area (SLA) as possible, and encompassing non-succulent C3 as well as succulent CAM plants. We worked with plants growing under uniform conditions in the facilities of a biological research station to ensure that any correlations found were due to inherent, genetically controlled, relationships between the measured parameters and not due to variations in resource availability in different habitats. We found CER to be strongly correlated to SLA, leaf N concentration and ChI concentration. CER increased much faster with increasing leaf N concentration (CER ≈ N3.1) than with increasing SLA (CER ≈ SLA1.2). CER also increased much faster with leaf N concentration than with increasing Chl concentration (CER ≈ Chl1.3), indicating the photosynthetic N-use efficiency (NUE) to be higher for plants with high N concentration than for plants with low N concentration (NUE ≈ N2.1). Analysis of covariance showed that these relationships exist even when comparing plants of widely different growth forms - succulent or non-succulent, and of different photosynthetic pathways, as the C3 and CAM plants compared here. Testing against scaling coefficients calculated using dimensional analysis, showed that the scaling of N, Chl and CER against SLA was not merely a result of diluting N and Chl with carbon in thicker leaves but that SLA, probably through influencing light absorption and/or CO2 diffusion pathway, played an independent role in controlling CER.
- Leaf thickness
- Photosynthetic N-use efficiency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science