Annals of Botany

Photosynthesis: a fast-changing process in an even faster world

Photosynthesis is the process that fuels a plant. It sets the energy budget for the organism. It’s no surprise it’s a well-studied process, tet the most commonly measured photosynthesis parameters are made at ‘steady state’ meaning that new photosynthetic traits could remain undiscovered. The ‘dynamic’ changes in photosynthesis (i.e. the kinetics of the various reactions of photosynthesis in response to environmental shifts) are now known to be important in driving crop yield.

Leaves in dappled light
Image: Murchie et al. (2018)

Despite huge advances in measurement technology in recent years, it is still unclear whether we possess the capability of capturing and describing the physiologically relevant dynamic features of field photosynthesis in sufficient detail. Such traits are highly complex, hence Murchie et al. dub this the ‘photosynthome’. Their review sets out the state of play and describes some approaches that could be made to address this challenge with reference to the relevant biological processes involved.