Huner NPA, Oquist G, Hurry VM, Krol M, Falk S, Griffith M
Photosynthesis, Photoinhibition and Low-Temperature Acclimation in Cold Tolerant Plants
Photosynthesis Research: 1993 37:19-39
Cold acclimation requires adjustment to a combination of light and low temperature, conditions which are potentially photoinhibitory. The photosynthetic response of plants to low temperature is dependent upon time of exposure and the developmental history of the leaves. Exposure of fully expanded leaves of winter cereals to short-term, low temperature shifts inhibits whereas low temperature growth stimulates electron transport capacity and carbon assimilation. However, the photosynthetic response to low temperature is clearly species and cultivar dependent. Winter annuals and algae which actively grow and develop at low temperature and moderate irradiance acquire a resistance to irradiance 5- to 6-fold higher than their growth irradiance. Resistance to short-term photoinhibition (hours) in winter cereals is a reflection of the increased capacity to keep Q(A) oxidized under high light conditions and low temperature. This is due to an increased capacity for photosynthesis. These characteristics reflect photosynthetic acclimation to low growth temperature and can be used to predict the freezing tolerance of cereals. It is proposed that the enhanced photosynthetic capacity reflects an increased flux of fixed carbon through to sucrose in source tissue as a consequence of the combined effects of increased storage of carbohydrate as fructans in the vacuole of leaf mesophyll cells and an enhanced export to the crown due to its increased sink activity. Long-term exposure (months) of cereals to low temperature photoinhibition indicates that this reduction of photochemical efficiency of PS II represents a stable, long-term down regulation of PS II to match the energy requirements for CO2 fixation. Thus, photoinhibition in vivo should be viewed as the capacity of plants to adjust photosynthetically to the prevailing environmental conditions rather than a process which necessarily results in damage or injury to plants. Not all cold tolerant, herbaceous annuals use the same mechanism to acquire resistance to photoinhibition. In contrast to annuals and algae, overwintering evergreens become dormant during the cold hardening period and generally remain susceptible to photoinhibition. It is concluded that the photosynthetic response to low temperatures and susceptibility to photoinhibition are consequences of the overwintering strategy of the plant species.
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