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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Kok effect in Vicia faba cannot be explained solely by changes in chloroplastic CO2concentration

  • Author(s): Buckley, TN
  • Vice, H
  • Adams, MA
  • et al.

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© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust The Kok effect – an abrupt decline in quantum yield (QY) of net CO2assimilation at low photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) – is widely used to estimate respiration in the light (R), which assumes the effect is caused by light suppression of R. A recent report suggested much of the Kok effect can be explained by declining chloroplastic CO2concentration (cc) at low PPFD. Several predictions arise from the hypothesis that the Kok effect is caused by declining cc, and we tested these predictions in Vicia faba. We measured CO2exchange at low PPFD, in 2% and 21% oxygen, in developing and mature leaves, which differed greatly in R in darkness. Our results contradicted each of the predictions based on the cceffect: QY exceeded the theoretical maximum value for photosynthetic CO2uptake; QY was larger in 21% than 2% oxygen; and the change in QY at the Kok effect breakpoint was unaffected by oxygen. Our results strongly suggest the Kok effect arises largely from a progressive decline in R with PPFD that includes both oxygen-sensitive and -insensitive components. We suggest an improved Kok method that accounts for high ccat low PPFD.

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