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  Section: Introduction to Botany » Photosynthesis
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The C4 Plants

  Early Research
  Modern-day Research
  Electron Transfer
  The Calvin Cycle
  The C4 Plants
  The CAM Carbon Pathway

Numerous plants produce the 4-carbon compound oxaloacetic acid rather than the 3-carbon compound in PGA photosynthesis. Those that produce PGA are called C3 plants. Those that produce oxaloacetic acid are called C4 plants.

The oxaloacetic acid molecule is formed when a 3-carbon phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP) unites with carbon dioxide with the help of the enzyme phosphoenol pyruvate carboxylase. The C4 plants possess two kinds of chloroplasts: large chloroplasts with few grana (which are found in the bundle sheath cells surrounding the veins of a leaf) and smaller, more numerous chloroplasts (which occur in the mesophyll of the leaf). The large chloroplasts have numerous starch grains not present in the smaller chloroplasts. The C4 plants thrive at much higher temperature ranges than do the C3 plants, and the rate of photosynthesis in C4 plants is much faster than that in C3 plants.


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