Physiological evidence for plasticity in glycolate/glycerate transport during photorespiration
Photorespiration recycles fixed carbon following the oxygenation reaction of Ribulose, 1–5, carboxylase oxygenase (Rubisco). The recycling of photorespiratory C2 to C3 intermediates is not perfectly efficient and reduces photosynthesis in C3 plants. Recently, a plastidic glycolate/glycerate transporter (PLGG1) in photorespiration was identified in Arabidopsis thaliana, but it is not known how critical this transporter is for maintaining photorespiratory efficiency. We examined a mutant deficient in PLGG1 (plgg1-1) using modeling, gas exchange, and Rubisco biochemistry. Under low light (under 65 μmol m−2 s−1 PAR), there was no difference in the quantum efficiency of CO2 assimilation or in the photorespiratory CO2compensation point of plgg1-1, indicating that photorespiration proceeded with wild-type efficiency under sub-saturating light irradiances. Under saturating light irradiance (1200 μmol m−2 s−1 PAR), plgg1-1 showed decreased CO2 assimilation that was explained by decreases in the maximum rate of Rubisco carboxylation and photosynthetic linear electron transport. Decreased rates of Rubisco carboxylation resulted from probable decreases in the Rubisco activation state. These results suggest that glycolate/glycerate transport during photorespiration can proceed in moderate rates through an alternative transport process with wild-type efficiencies. These findings also suggest that decreases in net CO2 assimilation that occur due to disruption to photorespiration can occur by decreases in Rubisco activity and not necessarily decreases in the recycling efficiency of photorespiration.