The peculiarities of leaf carbon dioxide gas exchange in soybean genotypes grown in field over a large area and contrasting in duration of vegetation, photosynthetic traits and productivity were studied. Varietal differences in the daily and ontogenetic changes in photosynthesis and photorespiration were identified. It was established that the period of the high activity of photosynthetic apparatus in high productive soybean genotypes lasts for a longer time. The photosynthetic rate and the rate of CO2 release in light due to photorespiration are higher in high productive genotypes. A value of photorespiration in contrasting soybean genotypes constitutes about 28% - 35% of photosynthetic rate. The ratio of gross photosynthesis to photorespiration in genotypes with different productivity is constant enough during ontogenesis, indicating a direct positive correlation between gross photosynthesis and photorespiration. Therefore, contrary to conception arisen during many years on the waste-fulness of photorespiration, taking into account the versatile investigations on different aspects of photo-respiration, it was proved that photorespiration is one of the evolutionarily developed vital metabolic processes in plants and the attempts to reduce this process with the purpose of increasing the crop productivity are inconsistent.
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