Comparisons of photosynthetic and anatomical traits between wild and domesticated cotton

Lei Z, Liu F, Wright IJ, Carriquí M, Niinemets Ü, Han J, Jia M, Atwell BJ, Cai X, Zhang W, Zhou Z and Zhang Y

Journal of Experimental Botany


Mesophyll conductance (gm) is a crucial leaf trait contributing to the photosynthetic rate (AN). Plant domestication typically leads to an enhancement of AN that is often associated with profound anatomical modifications, but it is unclear which of these structural alterations influence gm. We analyzed the implication of domestication on leaf anatomy and its effect on gm in 26 wild and 31 domesticated cotton genotypes (Gossypium sp.) grown under field conditions. We found that domesticated genotypes had higher AN but similar gm to wild genotypes. Consistent with this, domestication did not translate into significant differences in the fraction of mesophyll occupied by intercellular air spaces (fias) or mesophyll and chloroplast surface area exposed to intercellular air space (Sm/S and Sc/S, respectively). However, leaves of domesticated genotypes were significantly thicker, with larger but fewer mesophyll cells with thinner cell walls. Moreover, domesticated genotypes had higher cell wall conductance (gcw) but smaller cytoplasmic conductance (gcyt) than wild genotypes. It appears that domestication in cotton has not generally led to significant improvement in gm, in part because their thinner mesophyll cell walls (increasing gcw) compensate for their lower gcyt, itself due to larger distance between plasmalemma and chloroplast envelopes.