Localization of (photo)respiration and CO2 re-assimilation in tomato leaves investigated with a reaction-diffusion model

Herman N.C. Berghuijs*, Xinyou Yin, Quang Tri Ho, Moges A. Retta, Pieter Verboven, Bart M. Nicolaï, Paul C. Struik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The rate of photosynthesis depends on the CO2 partial pressure near Rubisco, Cc, which is commonly calculated by models using the overall mesophyll resistance. Such models do not explain the difference between the CO2 level in the intercellular air space and Cc mechanistically. This problem can be overcome by reaction-diffusion models for CO2 transport, production and fixation in leaves. However, most reaction-diffusion models are complex and unattractive for procedures that require a large number of runs, like parameter optimisation. This study provides a simpler reaction-diffusion model. It is parameterized by both leaf physiological and leaf anatomical data. The anatomical data consisted of the thickness of the cell wall, cytosol and stroma, and the area ratios of mesophyll exposed to the intercellular air space to leaf surfaces and exposed chloroplast to exposed mesophyll surfaces. The model was used directly to estimate photosynthetic parameters from a subset of the measured light and CO2 response curves; the remaining data were used for validation. The model predicted light and CO2 response curves reasonably well for 15 days old tomato (cv. Admiro) leaves, if (photo)respiratory CO2 release was assumed to take place in the inner cytosol or in the gaps between the chloroplasts. The model was also used to calculate the fraction of CO2 produced by (photo)respiration that is re-assimilated in the stroma, and this fraction ranged from 56 to 76%. In future research, the model should be further validated to better understand how the re-assimilation of (photo)respired CO2 is affected by environmental conditions and physiological parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0183746
Number of pages26
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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