The freshwater macrophyte, Ottelia alismoides, is a bicarbonate user performing C4 photosynthesis in the light, and crassulacean
acid metabolism (CAM) when acclimated to low CO2. The regulation of the three mechanisms by CO2 concentration was studied in juvenile and mature leaves. For mature leaves, the ratios of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) to ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) are in the range of that of C4 plants regardless of CO2 concentration (1.5–2.5 at low CO2, 1.8–3.4 at high CO2). In contrast, results for juvenile leaves suggest that C4 is facultative and only present under low CO2. pH-drift experiments showed that both juvenile and mature leaves can use bicarbonate irrespective of CO2 concentration, but mature leaves have a significantly greater carbon-extracting ability than juvenile leaves at low CO2. At high CO2, neither juvenile nor mature leaves perform CAM as indicated by lack of diurnal acid fluctuation. However, CAM was present at low CO2, though the fluctuation of titratable acidity in juvenile leaves (15–17 μequiv g？ 1 FW) was slightly but significantly lower than in mature leaves (19–25 μequiv g？1 FW), implying that the capacity to perform CAM increases as leaves mature. The increased CAM activity is associated with elevated PEPC activity and large diel changes in starch content. These results show that in O. alismoides, carbon-dioxide concentrating mechanisms are more effective in mature compared to juvenile leaves, and C4 is facultative in juvenile leaves but constitutive in mature leaves.