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Welcome to the C4 World

  • Thure E. Cerling (a1) (a2) and James R. Ehleringer (a2)

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There are two principal mechanisms of photosynthesis amongst the plants of the world. One produces a 3-carbon compound as the primary photosynthate and is called C3 photosynthesis. The other produces a 4-carbon compound as its primary photosynthate and is called C4 photosynthesis. This latter method is of rather recent origin, and its inception had important consequences for the flora and fauna of the world. The C4 plants make up a significant portion of global net primary productivity, especially in low latitudes. C4 plants are predominantly warm-season grasses, while C3 plants include most dicotyledons and cool-season monocotyledons. In this review we answer the questions about how C4 photosynthesis differs from C3 photosynthesis, where C4 plants are found, and review the paleoecological history of C4 photosynthesis.

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Welcome to the C4 World

  • Thure E. Cerling (a1) (a2) and James R. Ehleringer (a2)

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