A microscale model for combined CO2 diffusion and photosynthesis in leaves

Ho, Q.T.; Verboven, P.; Yin, X.; Struik, P.C.; Nicolaï, B.M.


Transport of CO2 in leaves was investigated by combining a 2-D, microscale CO2 transport model with photosynthesis kinetics in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) leaves. The biophysical microscale model for gas exchange featured an accurate geometric representation of the actual 2-D leaf tissue microstructure and accounted for diffusive mass exchange of CO2. The resulting gas transport equations were coupled to the biochemical Farquhar-von Caemmerer-Berry model for photosynthesis. The combined model was evaluated using gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence measurements on wheat leaves. In general a good agreement between model predictions and measurements was obtained, but a discrepancy was observed for the mesophyll conductance at high CO2 levels and low irradiance levels. This may indicate that some physiological processes related to photosynthesis are not incorporated in the model. The model provided detailed insight into the mechanisms of gas exchange and the effects of changes in ambient CO2 concentration or photon flux density on stomatal and mesophyll conductance. It represents an important step forward to study CO2 diffusion coupled to photosynthesis at the leaf tissue level, taking into account the leaf's actual microstructure.