Volume 103, Issue 2, February 2011, Pages 265-284
Computational Models of Photosynthesis.
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Photosynthesis is the origin of oxygenic life on the planet, and its models are the core of all models of plant biology, agriculture, environmental quality and global climate change. A theory is presented here, based on single process biochemical reactions of Rubisco, recognizing that: In the light, Rubisco activase helps separate Rubisco from the stored ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP), activates Rubisco with carbamylation and addition of Mg≤(+), and then produces two products, in two steps: (Step 1) Reaction of Rubisco with RuBP produces a Rubisco-enediol complex, which is the carboxylase-oxygenase enzyme (Enco) and (Step 2) Enco captures CO₂ and/or O₂ and produces intermediate products leading to production and release of 3-phosphoglycerate (PGA) and Rubisco. PGA interactively controls (1) the carboxylation-oxygenation, (2) electron transport, and (3) triosephosphate pathway of the Calvin-Benson cycle that leads to the release of glucose and regeneration of RuBP. Initially, the total enzyme participates in the two steps of the reaction transitionally and its rate follows Michaelis-Menten kinetics. But, for a continuous steady state, Rubisco must be divided into two concurrently active segments for the two steps. This causes a deviation of the steady state from the transitional rate. Kinetic models are developed that integrate the transitional and the steady state reactions. They are tested and successfully validated with verifiable experimental data. The single-process theory is compared to the widely used two-process theory of Farquhar et al. (1980. Planta 149, 78-90), which assumes that the carboxylation rate is either Rubisco-limited at low CO₂ levels such as CO₂ compensation point, or RuBP regeneration-limited at high CO₂. Since the photosynthesis rate cannot increase beyond the two-process theory's Rubisco limit at the CO₂ compensation point, net photosynthesis cannot increase above zero in daylight, and since there is always respiration at night, it leads to progressively negative daily CO₂ fixation with no possibility of oxygenic life on the planet. The Rubisco-limited theory at low CO₂ also contradicts all experimental evidence for low substrate reactions, and for all known enzymes, Rubisco included/