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Oecologia. 2006 Oct;149(4):571-82. Epub 2006 Jul 11.

Leaf anatomy and light acclimation in woody seedlings after gap formation in a cool-temperate deciduous forest.

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  • 1Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai, 980-8578, Japan. roguchi@biol.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp


The photosynthetic light acclimation of fully expanded leaves of tree seedlings in response to gap formation was studied with respect to anatomical and photosynthetic characteristics in a natural cool-temperate deciduous forest. Eight woody species of different functional groups were used; two species each from mid-successional canopy species (Kalopanax pictus and Magnolia obovata), from late-successional canopy species (Quercus crispula and Acer mono), from sub-canopy species (Acer japonicum and Fraxinus lanuginosa) and from vine species (Schizophragma hydrangeoides and Hydrangea petiolaris). The light-saturated rate of photosynthesis (Pmax) increased significantly after gap formation in six species other than vine species. Shade leaves of K. pictus, M. obovata and Q. crispula had vacant spaces along cell walls in mesophyll cells, where chloroplasts were absent. The vacant space was filled after the gap formation by increased chloroplast volume, which in turn increased Pmax. In two Acer species, an increase in the area of mesophyll cells facing the intercellular space enabled the leaves to increase Pmax after maturation. The two vine species did not significantly change their anatomical traits. Although the response and the mechanism of acclimation to light improvement varied from species to species, the increase in the area of chloroplast surface facing the intercellular space per unit leaf area accounted for most of the increase in Pmax, demonstrating the importance of leaf anatomy in increasing Pmax.

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