The short-term responses of C3 photosynthesis to high CO2 are described first. Regulation of photosynthesis in the short term is determined by interaction among the capacities of light harvesting, electron transport, ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase (Rubisco) and orthophosphate (Pi) regeneration during starch and sucrose synthesis. Photosynthesis under high CO2 conditions is limited by either electron transport or Pi regeneration capacities, and Rubisco is deactivated to maintain a balance between each step in the photosynthetic pathway. Subsequently, the long-term effects on, photosynthesis are discussed. Long-term CO2 enhancement leads to carbohydrate accumulation. Accumulation of carbohydrates is not associated with a Pi-regeneration limitation on photosynthesis, and this limitation is apparently removed during long-term exposure to high CO2. Enhanced CO2 does not affect Rubisco content and electron transport capacity for a given leaf-nitrogen content. In addition, the deactivated Rubisco immediately after exposure to high CO2 does not recover during the subsequent prolonged exposure. Such evidence may indicate that plants do not necessarily have an ideal acclimation response to high CO2 at the biochemical level.
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