Comparisons of photosynthetic and anatomical traits between wild and domesticated cotton

Zhangying Lei, Fang Liu, Ian J. Wright, Marc Carriquí, Ulo Niinemets, Jimei Han, Mengmeng Jia, Brian J. Atwell, Xiaoyan Cai, Wangfeng Zhang, Zhongli Zhou, Yali Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Mesophyll conductance (gm) is a crucial leaf trait contributing to the photosynthetic rate (AN). Plant domestication typically leads to an enhancement of AN that is often associated with profound anatomical modifications, but it is unclear which of these structural alterations influence gm. We analyzed the implication of domestication on leaf anatomy and its effect on gm in 26 wild and 31 domesticated cotton genotypes (Gossypium sp.) grown under field conditions. We found that domesticated genotypes had higher AN but similar gm to wild genotypes. Consistent with this, domestication did not translate into significant differences in the fraction of mesophyll occupied by intercellular air spaces (fias) or mesophyll and chloroplast surface area exposed to intercellular air space (Sm/S and Sc/S, respectively). However, leaves of domesticated genotypes were significantly thicker, with larger but fewer mesophyll cells with thinner cell walls. Moreover, domesticated genotypes had higher cell wall conductance (gcw) but smaller cytoplasmic conductance (gcyt) than wild genotypes. It appears that domestication in cotton has not generally led to significant improvement in gm, in part because their thinner mesophyll cell walls (increasing gcw) compensate for their lower gcyt, itself due to larger distance between plasmalemma and chloroplast envelopes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)873-885
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
    Issue number3
    Early online date21 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2022


    • Anatomical traits
    • cell wall conductance
    • cotton domestication
    • cytoplasmic conductance
    • mesophyll conductance
    • photosynthesis


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    • ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture

      Beveridge, C., Cooper, M., Brodribb, T., Waterhouse, P. M., Wright, I., Bowman, J., Burrage, K., Donovan, D., Foo, E., Jordan, D., Hammer, G., Henry, R., Holland, B., Ortiz-Barrientos, D., Sherman, B., Smith, S., Weller, J., Bett, K., Holbrook, N., Li, J., Lunn, J., Messina, C., Morris, G., Rieseberg, L., Taylor, J. & Trevaskis, B.


      Project: Research

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