A close correlation between stomatal conductance and the steady-state photosynthetic rate has been observed for diverse plant species under various environmental conditions. However, it remains unclear whether stomatal conductance is a major limiting factor for the photosynthetic rate under naturally fluctuating light conditions. We analysed a SLAC1 knockout rice line to examine the role of stomatal conductance in photosynthetic responses to fluctuating light. SLAC1 encodes a stomatal anion channel that regulates stomatal closure. Long exposures to weak light before treatments with strong light increased the photosynthetic induction time required for plants to reach a steady-state photosynthetic rate and also induced stomatal limitation of photosynthesis by restricting the diffusion of CO2 into leaves. The slac1 mutant exhibited a significantly higher rate of stomatal opening after an increase in irradiance than wild-type plants, leading to a higher rate of photosynthetic induction. Under natural conditions, in which irradiance levels are highly variable, the stomata of the slac1 mutant remained open to ensure efficient photosynthetic reaction. These observations reveal that stomatal conductance is important for regulating photosynthesis in rice plants in the natural environment with fluctuating light.
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