The regulation of photosynthesis and carbon gain of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants has not yet been disclosed to the extent of C3-plants. In this study, the tropical epiphyte Phalaenopsis cv. “Sacramento” was subjected to different lighting regimes. Photosynthesis and biochemical measuring techniques were used to address four specific questions: (1) the response of malate decarboxylation to light intensity, (2) the malate carboxylation pathway in phase IV, (3) the response of diel carbon gain to the light integral and (4) the response of diel carbon gain to CO2. The four CAM-phases were clearly discernable. The length of phase III and the malate decarboxylation rate responded directly to light intensity. In phase IV, CO2 was initially mainly carboxylated via Rubisco. However, at daylength of 16 h, specifically beyond ±12 h, it was mainly phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEP-C) carboxylating CO2. Diel carbon gain appeared to be controlled by the light integral during phase III rather than the total daily light integral. Elevated CO2 further enhanced carbon gain both in phase IV and phase I. This establishes that neither malate storage capacity, nor availability of PEP as substrate for nocturnal CO2 carboxylation were limiting factors for carbon gain enhancement. These results advance our understanding of CAM-plants and are also of practical importance for growers.
- crassulacean acid metabolism
- phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC)