The carboxylase activity of Rubisco and the photosynthetic performance in aquatic plants

S. Beer*, K. Sand-Jensen, T. Vindbaek Madsen, S. L. Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Activated carboxylase activities of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), as well as photosynthetic rates were measured for 42 species of freshwater and marine macrophytes. While the carboxylase activity varied greatly among the species investigated (0.2-12.5 μmol CO2 mg-1 chlorophyll min-1), the submersed freshwater plants showed significantly lower activities than emergent, floating leaved or secondary submersed forms. The variability in photosynthetic rates correlated with the carboxylase activity only for the marine macroalgae, and their photosynthesis to carboxylase activity ratios were close to 1. These plants also had a consistently high inorganic carbon transport capability, and it is suggested that ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase activity is an important internal factor regulating the photosynthetic capacity within this plant group where, apparently, the internal CO2 concentration is high and photorespiration is suppressed. Among the freshwater forms, it appears that their much lower inorganic carbon transport ability, rather than their carboxylase activity, limits the photosynthetic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-434
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquatic
  • Macrophytes
  • Marine
  • Photosynthesis
  • Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco)


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