Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an essential substrate for photosynthesis in plants. CO2 is absorbed mainly through the stomata in land plants because all other aerial surfaces are covered by a waxy layer called the cuticle. The cuticle is an important barrier that protects against extreme water loss; however, this anaerobic layer limits CO2 uptake. Simply, in the process of adapting to a terrestrial environment, plants have acquired drought tolerance in exchange for reduced CO2 uptake efficiency. To evaluate the extent to which increased cuticle permeability enhances CO2 uptake efficiency, we investigated the CO2 assimilation rate, carbon content, and dry weight of the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) mutant excessive transpiration1 (extra1), whose cuticle is remarkably permeable to water vapor. We isolated the mutant as a new allele of ACETYL-COA CARBOXYLASE1, encoding a critical enzyme for fatty acid synthesis, thereby affecting cuticle wax synthesis. Under saturated water vapor conditions, the extra1 mutant demonstrated a higher CO2 assimilation rate, carbon content, and greater dry weight than did the wild-type plant. On the other hand, the stomatal mutant slow-type anion channel-associated1, whose stomata are continuously open, also exhibited a higher CO2 assimilation rate than the wild-type plant; however, the increase was only half of the amount exhibited by extra1. These results indicate that the efficiency of CO2 uptake via a permeable cuticle is greater than the efficiency via stomata and confirm that land plants suffer a greater loss of CO2 uptake efficiency by developing a cuticle barrier.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science