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Tree Physiol. 2008 Oct;28(10):1483-91.

Seasonal acclimation of photosystem II in Pinus sylvestris. II. Using the rate constants of sustained thermal energy dissipation and photochemistry to study the effect of the light environment.

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  • 1Department of Forest Ecology, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.


Photosynthesis in evergreen conifers is characterized by down-regulation in autumn and rapid up-regulation in spring. This seasonal pattern is largely driven by temperature, but the light environment also plays a role. In overwintering Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) trees, PSII is less down-regulated and recovers faster from winter stress in shaded needles than in needles exposed to full sunlight. Because the effect of light on the seasonal acclimation of PSII has not been quantitatively studied under field conditions, we used the rate constants for sustained thermal energy dissipation and photochemistry to investigate the dynamics and kinetics of the seasonal acclimation of PSII in needles exposed to different light environments. We monitored chlorophyll fluorescence and needle pigment concentration during the winter and spring in Scots pine seedlings growing in the field in different shading treatments, and within the crowns of mature trees. The results indicated that differences in acclimation of PSII in overwintering Scots pine among needles exposed to different light environments can be chiefly attributed to sustained thermal dissipation. We also present field evidence that zeaxanthin-facilitated thermal dissipation and aggregation of thylakoid membrane proteins are key mechanisms in the regulation of sustained thermal dissipation in Scots pine trees in the field.

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