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The photosynthetic capacity in 35 ferns and fern allies: Mesophyll CO2 diffusion as a key trait


Tosens, T and Nishida, K and Gago, J and Coopman, RE and Cabrera, HM and Carriqui, M and Laanisto, L and Morales, L and Nadal, M and Rojas, R and Talts, E and Tomas, M and Hanba, Y and Niinemets, U and Flexas, J, The photosynthetic capacity in 35 ferns and fern allies: Mesophyll CO2 diffusion as a key trait, New Phytologist, 209, (4) pp. 1576-1590. ISSN 0028-646X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 the authors New Phytologist Copyright 2015 New Phytologist Trust

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.13719


  • Ferns and fern allies have low photosynthetic rates compared with seed plants. Their photosynthesis is thought to be limited principally by physical CO2 diffusion from the atmosphere to chloroplasts.
  • The aim of this study was to understand the reasons for low photosynthesis in species of ferns and fern allies (Lycopodiopsida and Polypodiopsida). We performed a comprehensive assessment of the foliar gas‐exchange and mesophyll structural traits involved in photosynthetic function for 35 species of ferns and fern allies. Additionally, the leaf economics spectrum (the interrelationships between photosynthetic capacity and leaf/frond traits such as leaf dry mass per unit area or nitrogen content) was tested.
  • Low mesophyll conductance to CO2 was the main cause for low photosynthesis in ferns and fern allies, which, in turn, was associated with thick cell walls and reduced chloroplast distribution towards intercellular mesophyll air spaces.
  • Generally, the leaf economics spectrum in ferns follows a trend similar to that in seed plants. Nevertheless, ferns and allies had less nitrogen per unit DW than seed plants (i.e. the same slope but a different intercept) and lower photosynthesis rates per leaf mass area and per unit of nitrogen.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cell wall thickness (Tcw), leaf anatomy, leaf mass per area (LMA), mesophyll conductance (gm), photosynthesis limitations, photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE), pteridophytes
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant physiology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Other plant production and plant primary products
Objective Field:Other plant production and plant primary products not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Carriqui, M (Mr Marc Carriqui Alcover)
ID Code:134464
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:124
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2019-08-14
Last Modified:2019-09-16

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