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1. There are many abiotic factors that affect the rate of photosynthesis in terrestrial plants.

Wheat is
an important cereal crop in many parts of the world. Wheat seedlings were grown at three
different concentrations of carbon dioxide (in parts per million) and the rate of photosynthesis
was measured at various light intensities.

Rate of photosynthesis / l CO 2 min –1 50

40

30 key:
1300 ppm CO2
20 500 ppm CO2
280 ppm CO2
10

0
0 5 10 15 20
Light intensity / × 10 3 lumen m –2

[Source: Adapted from J P Kimmins, 1997 Forest Ecology, (2nd edition) page 161]

(a) Describe the relationship between the rate of photosynthesis and light intensity for wheat
seedlings grown at a CO2 concentration of 500 ppm.

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(b) Outline the effect of CO2 concentration on the rate of photosynthesis of the wheat
seedlings.

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(c) The normal atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 370 ppm. Deduce the effect of doubling
the CO2 concentration to 740 ppm on the growth of wheat plants.

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Leaf area and chlorophyll levels were measured in sun leaves and shade leaves of Hedera helix
(English Ivy) and Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel). Sun leaves developed under maximal
sunlight conditions while shade leaves developed at reduced sunlight levels in the shadow of
other leaves.

Species Leaf Type Chlorophyll/ Leaf Area/


g ml-1 cm2
Ivy Shade 4.3 72.6
Sun 3.8 62.9
Laurel Shade 4.7 38.7
Sun 4.2 25.7

[Source: D Curtis, Plant Ecology independent project, 1990]

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(d) Calculate the percentage increase in the amount of chlorophyll in shade leaves of ivy
compared to sun leaves of ivy

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(e) Suggest a reason for the differences in chlorophyll concentration and leaf area in sun and
shade leaves in these two species.

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(Total 10 marks)

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2. Biosphere 2, an enormous greenhouse built in the Arizona desert in the USA, has been used to
study five different ecosystems. It is a closed system so measurements can be made under
controlled conditions. The effects of different factors, including changes in carbon dioxide
concentration in the greenhouse, were studied. The data shown below were collected over the
course of one day in January 1996.

1200 1600

1400
1000
1200
CO 2 / 800 light /
ppm 1000 mol m–2 s –1

600 800

600
400
400
200 Key: CO 2
Light 200

0 0
0 1.5 3 4.5 6 7.5 9 10.5 12 13.5 15 16.5 18 19.5 21 22.5 24
Time / hours
[Source: http://www.Ideo.columbia.edu/martins/climate_water/labs/lab6/labinstr6/html]

(a) (i) Identify the time of day when the sun rose.

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(ii) Identify the time of minimal CO2 concentration.

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(b) Determine the maximum difference in the concentration of CO2 over the 24-hour period.

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(c) Suggest reasons for changes in CO2 concentration during the 24-hour period.

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(Total 5 marks)

3. Plants that grow in the desert have many adaptations that enable them to cope with full sunlight
and low water availability, such as thicker leaves with reduced surface area. Researchers have
also observed that leaf pubescence (presence of white leaf surface hairs) may be another
adaptation to dry environments. A study was done to evaluate the effects of leaf pubescence on
two species of Californian plants, Encelia farinosa, a desert species with pubescent leaves and
Encelia californica, a native of the moist coast with non-pubescent leaves.

The graph below shows the absorption spectrum of intact leaves of both species in the
photosynthetically active spectrum between the wavelengths 400 nm (blue light) and 800 nm (red
light) of light.

100 Key:
90 E. californica
80
E. farinosa
70
60
Absorption 50
/%
40
30
20
10
0
400 450 500 550 600 650 700 750 800
Blue Green Yellow Orange Red
Wavelength / nm

[Source: From J. Ehleringer et al., “Leaf Pubescence: Effects on Absorptance and Photosynthesis in a Desert Shrub”, Science (23 April
1976), vol. 192, issue 4237, pp. 376-377. Reprinted with permission from AAAS]

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(a) Calculate the difference in absorption between E. farinosa and E. californica at 600 nm.

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(b) Suggest a possible explanation for the decrease in absorption at 550 nm for E. californica.

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The following graph shows the rate of CO2 uptake of three leaves of Encelia farinosa with
different absorbance coefficients (x) (proportion of light absorbed) which is related to the degree
of pubescence of the leaf. The higher the coefficient the more light is absorbed.

4.0 x = 0.82

3.5
x = 0.65
3.0

2.5
Rate of CO 2 uptake / x = 0.53
2.0
n mol CO 2 cm–2 sec–1
1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

0 50 100 150 200 250


Light intensity / mol cm–2 sec–1

[Source: From J. Ehleringer et al., “Leaf Pubescence: Effects on Absorptance and Photosynthesis in a Desert Shrub”, Science (23 April
1976), vol. 192, issue 4237, pp. 376-377. Reprinted with permission from AAAS]

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(c) Using the graph above, compare the maximum CO2 uptake of E. farinosa at absorbance
coefficients 0.82 and 0.53.

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(d) (i) Using the data, deduce the relationship between pubescence and light absorption.

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(ii) Evaluate the relationship of leaf pubescence and CO2 uptake.

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(e) Suggest how natural selection may have caused the difference in leaf pubescence between
E. farinosa and E. californica.

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Further research was carried out to evaluate the relationship between leaf pubescence during the
growing season of E. farinosa and its water use efficiency. Water use efficiency is defined as the
amount of CO2 uptake divided by the amount of water lost by transpiration from the leaf. The
graph below shows the seasonal change in leaf pubescence and water use efficiency of E.
farinosa. The period of maximum growth is indicated on the graph. During the course of the year
the optimum temperature for photosynthesis remains at 30C while the air temperature fluctuates
from a high of 38C in the summer months (May–September) to a low of 8C during the winter
months (December–February).

6 0.35 Key:

0.30 Water use effciency


Water use effciency / arbitrary units

Pubescence Thickness /mm


0.25 Pubescence thickness
4
0.20
3
0.15
2
0.10

1 0.05

0 0.00
M J J A S O N D J F M A M
Time of the year / month maximum growth period
new leaves emerge

[Source: Ecology by William K. Smith and Park S. Nobel. Copyright 1977 by Ecological Society of America. Reproduced with
permission of Ecological Society of America in the format of CD-Rom via Copyright Clearance Center.]

(f) State the month with the highest water use efficiency.

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(g) Outline the changes in leaf pubescence of E. farinosa during the year.

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(h) Analyse the change in the level of water use efficiency between July and December for E.
farinosa.

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(Total 11 marks)

4. The cyanobacterium (Calothrix elenkenii) is cultivated as a source of photosynthetic pigments for


use in research and industry. The chart below shows the quantity of two of the pigments produced
when exposed to a day of continuous dark, a day of 16 hours light and 8 hours dark and a day of
continuous light. This was repeated in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Key: Chlorophyll
Dark β-Carotene
Aerobic
Light – Dark

Light

Dark
Anaerobic
Light – Dark

Light

0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.5 6.0
Amount of Pigment / μg cm–3

[Source: Reprinted from Journal of Plant Physiology, Vol 161, Parsanna et al., “Modulation of pigment…” pages 1125–1132,
 copyright (2002), with permission from Elsevier.]

(a) Identify the light conditions that cause most chlorophyll to be made when the
cyanobacterium is cultivated anaerobically.

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(b) Calculate the percentage increase in chlorophyll grown anaerobically in the light,
compared with anaerobically in the dark.

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(c) Compare pigment production in different aerobic conditions.

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(d) Discuss why having more than one photosynthetic pigment is an advantage to
cyanobacterium.

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(Total 7 marks)

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