This book is composed of 20 independently authored chapters which are loosely divided into two parts. The first chapters deal with the structure and functional aspects of photosynthesis and their relationship to processing of light by thylakoids, metabolic regulation and source-sink regulations. The second part examines how environmental factors such as light, temperature, water, CO2 concentration, ozone and UV-B effect photosynthetic performance.
Each chapter is prefaced with a summary. A table of contents and an extensive list of references are also included for each chapter. The authors the chapters are researchers who I would consider to be experts in the areas addressed. The authorship is international, with nationalities ranging from Japan to the United States to various countries in Europe.
The first three chapters deal with various aspects of electron transport. Chapter 1 is a detailed treatment of the processing of excitation energy by antennae pigments. The next two chapters deal with the control and measurement of photosynthetic electron transport in vivo and regulation of light utilization for photosynthetic electron transport. The next seven chapters deal with metabolic processes that are altered by environmental changes that may serve as useful systems to study when examining plant-environment interactions. Chapter 4 looks at photodamage and protein degradation during photoinhibition of photosystem II while Chapter 5 examines radical production and scavenging in photosynthesis.
Metabolic regulation of photosynthesis is treated in Chapter 6. The chapter takes the reader through the sometimes complex enzymatic pathways of carbon metabolism and distinguishes between regulatability and the regulatory capacity of an enzyme. It includes a detailed review of carbon metabolism complete with exemplary pathway diagrams that should be understandable to senior level undergraduates with an introductory plant physiology background. Carbon metabolism and photorespiration are reviewed in Chapter 7 and aspects of gas exchange are treated in Chapter 8. Chapters 9 and 10 deal with the biophysical and biochemical aspects of stomata and, source, sinks and sucrose, respectively. The importance of stomatal function to a plants interaction with the environment cannot be emphasized enough and Chapter 9 presents a very thorough treatment of the topic. The reference list included with this chapter is, by far, the most extensive listing given in this book. Chapter 10 discusses how sucrose may serve as a regulator, acting as an environmental sensor and signal molecule, resulting in alterations in metabolism.
The next nine chapters address the effects of various environmental factors on many of the processes addressed in the first ten chapters. Chapter 11 looks at the effects of light and nutrition on photosynthesis, while Chapter 13 also looks at lights affects by looking at fluctuating light environments. Chapter 14 and 15 deal with the effects of drought and temperature, respectively.
Chapters 16 and 17 deal with environmental ozone and CO2, topics that are often bantered about in the popular press, but commonly with little explanation. Chapter 16 deals with the effects of an increasing CO2 level in the environment. This chapter is the only one lacking charts and illustrations, making for slow reading and no quick way to determine chapter content in a quick scan. Chapter 17, dealing with the modification of photosynthetic capacity induced by ozone exposure, raises questions about ozone entry points, effects on metabolism, and the amount of basic information still needed to be obtained to better understand ozone effects in an environment that is becoming increasingly polluted. The effects of loss of stratospheric ozone are discussed in Chapter 18 in the context of increased ultraviolet-B radiation.
Chapter 12 deals with molecular biological approaches to environmental effects while Chapter 19 deals with evaluation and integration of environmental stress using stable isotopes. These are techniques chapters which contain much useful information; they might have been better placed in the volume for easy location; perhaps between the first ten chapters and the last ten chapters. Chapter 20 serves as a wrap up, discussing issues raised in the previous chapters and suggesting future directions of research.
This proved to be a difficult volume to review, not due to any deficiency in the publication but because of the depth and breadth of information included. With so many excellent papers in one place it was too much of a temptation to flip between chapters to try to determine how everything might fit together. I would strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in photosynthesis include this book in their reference collection. It would be useful as a review text for upper division students who have a basic knowledge of photosynthesis. This volume has more than fulfilled the purpose stated by the author. - Cynthia M. Galloway, Department of Biology, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, TX 78363