Temperature responses of leaf net photosynthesis: The role of component processes

Yan Shih Lin*, Belinda E. Medlyn, David S. Ellsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Citations (Scopus)


    The response of photosynthesis to temperature is a central facet of plant response to climate. Such responses have been found to be highly variable among species and among studies. Understanding this variability is key when trying to predict the effects of rising global temperatures on plant productivity. There are three major factors affecting the response of leaf net photosynthesis to temperature (An-T): (i) photosynthetic biochemistry, (ii) respiration and (iii) vapour pressure deficit (D) and stomatal sensitivity to vapour pressure deficit during measurements. The overall goal of our study was to quantify the relative contribution of each of these factors in determining the response of An to temperature. We first conducted a sensitivity analysis with a coupled photosynthesis-stomatal (An-gs) model, using ranges for parameters of each factor taken from the literature, and quantified how these parameters affected the An-T response. Second, we applied the An-gs model to two example sets of field data, which had different optimum temperatures (Topt) of An, to analyse which factors were most important in causing the difference. We found that each of the three factors could have an equally large effect on T opt of An. In our comparison between two field datasets, the major cause for the difference in Topt was not the biochemical component, but rather the differences in respiratory components and in D conditions during measurements. We concluded that shifts in An-T responses are not always driven by acclimation of photosynthetic biochemistry, but can result from other factors. The D conditions during measurements and stomatal responses to D also need to be quantified if we are to better understand and predict shifts in An-T with climate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219-231
    Number of pages13
    JournalTree physiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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