The photosynthetic properties of a yellow lethal mutant, Oy/oy, and two yellow-green mutants of maize which are allelic (a homozygous recessive oy/oy and a heterozygous dominant Oy/+) were examined. Although Oy/oy had little or no chlorophyll or capacity for CO2 fixation compared to normal siblings, it had 28% as much ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase (Rubisco) activity, and from 40% to near normal activities of C4 cycle enzymes. Both yellow-green mutants had only half as much chlorophyll per leaf area as normal green seedlings in greenhouse-grown plants in winter and spring. However, the absorbance of light by the mutants was relatively high, as their transmittance was only 5 to 8% greater than normal leaves. In winter-grown greenhouse plants, the activities of Rubisco and several C4 cycle enzymes in the mutants were unaffected and similar to those of normal seedlings on a leaf area basis. After allowing for small differences in leaf absorbance, the light response curves for photosynthesis in the mutants were similar on a leaf area basis but much higher on a chlorophyll basis than those of the normal seedlings. In spring-grown greenhouse plants the enzyme activities and photosynthesis rates were about 30% lower per leaf area in the yellow-green mutant leaves compared to the wild type. The maximum carboxylation efficiency (measured under low CO2 and 1000 μmol quanta m-2 s-1) in the mutants and normal leaves was similar on a Rubisco protein basis. The results indicate that maize can undergo a 50% reduction in chlorophyll content without a corresponding reduction in enzymes of carbon assimilation, and still maintain a high capacity for photosynthesis.
- C photosynthesis
- carbon assimilation