A fundamental limitation of photosynthetic carbon fixation is the availability of CO2. In C4 plants, primary carboxylation occurs in mesophyll cytosol, and little is known about the role of CO2 diffusion in facilitating C4 photosynthesis. We have examined the expression, localization, and functional role of selected plasma membrane intrinsic aquaporins (PIPs) from Setaria italica (foxtail millet) and discovered that SiPIP2;7 is CO2-permeable. When ectopically expressed in mesophyll cells of S. viridis (green foxtail), SiPIP2;7 was localized to the plasma membrane and caused no marked changes in leaf biochemistry. Gas-exchange and C18O16O discrimination measurements revealed that targeted expression of SiPIP2;7 enhanced the conductance to CO2 diffusion from the intercellular airspace to the mesophyll cytosol. Our results demonstrate that mesophyll conductance limits C4 photosynthesis at low pCO2 and that SiPIP2;7 is a functional CO2 permeable aquaporin that can improve CO2 diffusion at the airspace/mesophyll interface and enhance C4 photosynthesis.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Maria Ermakova
- Hannah Osborn
- Michael Groszmann
- Soumi Bala
- Hugo Alonso-cantabrana
- Robert T Furbank
- Robert E Sharwood
- Suzanne von Caemmerer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- David M Kramer, Michigan State University, United States
© 2021, Ermakova et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Photosystem I (PSI) is a multi-subunit pigment-protein complex that functions in light-harvesting and photochemical charge-separation reactions, followed by reduction of NADP to NADPH required for CO2 fixation in photosynthetic organisms. PSI from different photosynthetic organisms has a variety of chlorophylls (Chls), some of which are at lower-energy levels than its reaction center P700, a special pair of Chls, and are called low-energy Chls. However, the sites of low-energy Chls are still under debate. Here, we solved a 2.04-Å resolution structure of a PSI trimer by cryo-electron microscopy from a primordial cyanobacterium Gloeobacter violaceus PCC 7421, which has no low-energy Chls. The structure shows the absence of some subunits commonly found in other cyanobacteria, confirming the primordial nature of this cyanobacterium. Comparison with the known structures of PSI from other cyanobacteria and eukaryotic organisms reveals that one dimeric and one trimeric Chls are lacking in the Gloeobacter PSI. The dimeric and trimeric Chls are named Low1 and Low2, respectively. Low2 is missing in some cyanobacterial and eukaryotic PSIs, whereas Low1 is absent only in Gloeobacter. These findings provide insights into not only the identity of low-energy Chls in PSI, but also the evolutionary changes of low-energy Chls in oxyphototrophs.
The fern Ceratopteris richardii has been studied as a model organism for over 50 years because it is easy to grow and has a short life cycle. In particular, as the first homosporous vascular plant for which genomic resources were developed, C. richardii has been an important system for studying plant evolution. However, we know relatively little about the natural history of C. richardii. In this article, we summarize what is known about this aspect of C. richardii, and discuss how learning more about its natural history could greatly increase our understanding of the evolution of land plants.