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Plant Physiol. 1988 Jan;86(1):147-51.

A Comparison of the Effects of Chilling on Thylakoid Electron Transfer in Pea (Pisum sativum L.) and Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.).

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  • 1Department of Botany, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27706.


Experiments comparing the photosynthetic responses of a chilling-resistant species (Pisum sativum L. cv Alaska) and a chilling-sensitive species (Cucumis sativus L. cv Ashley) have shown that cucumber photosynthesis is adversely affected by chilling temperatures in the light, while pea photosynthesis is not inhibited by chilling in the light. To further investigate the site of the differential response of these two species to chilling stress, thylakoid membranes were isolated under various conditions and rates of photosynthetic electron transfer were determined. Preliminary experiments revealed that the integrity of cucumber thylakoids from 25 degrees C-grown plants was affected by the isolation temperature; cucumber thylakoids isolated at 5 degrees C in 400 millimolar NaCl were uncoupled, while thylakoids isolated at room temperature in 400 millimolar NaCl were coupled, as determined by addition of gramicidin. The concentration of NaCl in the homogenization buffer was found to be a critical factor in the uncoupling of cucumber thylakoids at 5 degrees C. In contrast, pea thylakoid membranes were not influenced by isolation temperatures or NaCl concentrations. In a second set of experiments, thylakoid membranes were isolated from pea and cucumber plants at successive intervals during a whole-plant light period chilling stress (5 degrees C). During wholeplant chilling, thylakoids isolated from cucumber plants chilled in the light were uncoupled even when the membranes were isolated at warm temperatures. Pea thylakoids were not uncoupled by the whole-plant chilling treatment. The difference in integrity of thylakoid membrane coupling following chilling in the light demonstrates a fundamental difference in photosynthetic function between these two species that may have some bearing on why pea is a chilling-resistant plant and cucumber is a chilling-sensitive plant.

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