Respiratory/Carbon Costs of Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in Legumes

Frank R. Minchin, John F. Witty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Respiration in plants, as in all living organisms, is essential to provide metabolic energy and carbon skeletons for growth and maintenance. As such, respiration is an essential component of a plant’s carbon budget. Depending on species and environmental conditions, it consumes 25-75% of all the carbohydrates produced in photosynthesis – even more at extremely slow growth rates. Respiration in plants can also proceed in a manner that produces neither metabolic energy nor carbon skeletons, but heat. This type of respiration involves the cyanide-resistant, alternative oxidase; it is unique to plants, and resides in the mitochondria. The activity of this alternative pathway can be measured based on a difference in fractionation of oxygen isotopes between the cytochrome and the alternative oxidase. Heat production is important in some flowers to attract pollinators; however, the alternative oxidase also plays a major role in leaves and roots of most plants. A common thread throughout this volume is to link respiration, including alternative oxidase activity, to plant functioning in different environments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlant Respiration. Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration 18
EditorsHans Lambers
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-3588-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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