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Plant Physiol. 1992 Sep;100(1):424-32.

Stress Tolerance of Photosystem II in Vivo: Antagonistic Effects of Water, Heat, and Photoinhibition Stresses.

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  • 1Département de Physiologie Végétale et Ecosystèmes, Centre d'Etudes de Cadarache, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, F-13108 Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France.


The in vivo photochemical activity of photosystem II was inferred from modulated chlorophyll fluorescence and photoacoustic measurements in intact leaves of several plant species (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., Solanum tuberosum L., Solanum nigrum L.) exposed to various environmental stresses (drought, heat, strong light) applied separately or in combination. Photosystem II was shown to be highly drought-resistant: even a drastic desiccation in air of detached leaf samples only marginally affected the quantum yield for photochemistry in photosystem II. However, water stress markedly modified the responses of photosystem II to superimposed constraints. The stability of photosystem II to heat was observed to increase strongly in leaves exposed to water stress conditions: heat treatments (e.g. 42 degrees C in the dark), which caused a complete and irreversible inhibition of photosystem II in well-watered (tomato) leaves, resulted in a small and fully reversible reduction of the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II in drought-stressed leaves. In vivo photoacoustic data indicated that photosystem I was highly resistant to both heat and water stresses. When leaves were illuminated with intense white light at 25 degrees C, photoinhibition damage of photosystem II was more pronounced in water-stressed leaves than in undesiccated controls. However, in nondehydrated leaves, photoinhibition of photosystem II was strongly temperature dependent, being drastically stimulated at high temperatures above 38 to 40 degrees C. As a consequence, when exposed to strong light at high temperature, photosystem II photochemistry was significantly less inhibited in dehydrated leaves than in control well-hydrated leaves. Our results demonstrate the existence of a marked antagonism between physicochemical stresses, with water stress enhancing the resistance of photosystem II to constraints (heat, strong light at high temperature) that are usually associated with drought in the field.

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