The Kok effect revisited

Xinyou Yin*, Yuxi Niu, Peter E.L. van der Putten, Paul C. Struik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Kok effect refers to the abrupt decrease around the light compensation point in the slope of net photosynthetic rate vs irradiance. Arguably, this switch arises from light inhibition of respiration, allowing the Kok method to estimate day respiration (Rd). Recent analysis suggests that increasing proportions of photorespiration (quantified as Γ*/Cc, the ratio of CO2 compensation point Γ* to chloroplast CO2 concentration, Cc) with irradiance explain much of the Kok effect. Also, the Kok method has been modified to account for the decrease in PSII photochemical efficiency (Φ2) with irradiance. Using a model that illustrates how varying Rd, Γ*/Cc, Φ2 and proportions of alternative electron transport could engender the Kok effect, we quantified the contribution of these parameters to the Kok effect measured in sunflower across various O2 and CO2 concentrations and various temperatures. Overall, the decreasing Φ2 with irradiance explained c. 12%, and the varying Γ*/Cc explained c. 25%, of the Kok effect. Maximum real light inhibition of Rd was much lower than the inhibition derived from the Kok method, but still increased with photorespiration. Photorespiration had a dual contribution to the Kok effect, one via the varying Γ*/Cc and the other via its participation in light inhibition of Rd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1764-1775
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • day respiration
  • Kok method
  • photorespiration
  • photosystem II efficiency
  • reassimilation
  • Yin method


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