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Anatomical and diffusional determinants inside leaves explain the difference in photosynthetic capacity between Cypripedium and Paphiopedilum, Orchidaceae

Yang, Zhong-Hui, Huang, Wei, Yang, Qiu-Yun, Chang, Wei, Zhang, Shi-Bao
Photosynthesis research 2018 v.136 no.3 pp. 315-328
Cypripedium, Paphiopedilum, cell walls, chloroplasts, correlation, leaf area, leaves, mesophyll, photosynthesis, phylogeny, quantitative analysis, stomatal conductance, surface area
Comparing with other angiosperms, most members within the family Orchidaceae have lower photosynthetic capacities. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Cypripedium and Paphiopedilum are closely related phylogenetically in Orchidaceae, but their photosynthetic performances are different. We explored the roles of internal anatomy and diffusional conductance in determining photosynthesis in three Cypripedium and three Paphiopedilum species, and quantitatively analyzed their diffusional and biochemical limitations to photosynthesis. Paphiopedilum species showed lower light-saturated photosynthetic rate (A N), stomatal conductance (g ₛ), and mesophyll conductance (g ₘ) than Cypripedium species. A N was positively correlated with g ₛ and g ₘ. And yet, in both species A N was more strongly limited by g ₘ than by biochemical factors or g ₛ. The greater g ₛ of Cypripedium was mainly affected by larger stomatal apparatus area and smaller pore depth, while the less g ₘ of Paphiopedilum was determined by the reduced surface area of mesophyll cells and chloroplasts exposed to intercellular airspace per unit of leaf area, and much thicker cell wall thickness. These results suggest that leaf anatomical structure is the key factor affecting g ₘ, which is largely responsible for the difference in photosynthetic capacity between those two genera. Our findings provide new insight into the photosynthetic physiology and functional diversification of orchids.