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Plant Physiol. 1997 Jul;114(3):1039-1046.

Effect of Chilling on Carbon Assimilation, Enzyme Activation, and Photosynthetic Electron Transport in the Absence of Photoinhibition in Maize Leaves.

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Department of Environmental Biology, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3EB, United Kingdom (A.H.K.-S., J.W., C.H.F.).


The relationships between electron transport and photosynthetic carbon metabolism were measured in maize (Zea mays L.) leaves following exposure to suboptimal temperatures. The quantum efficiency for electron transport in unchilled leaves was similar to that previously observed in C3 plants, although maize has two types of chloroplasts, mesophyll and bundle sheath, with PSII being largely absent from the latter. The index of noncyclic electron transport was proportional to the CO2 assimilation rate. Chilled leaves showed decreased rates of CO2 assimilation relative to unchilled leaves, but the integral relationships between the quantum efficiency for electron transport or the index of noncyclic electron transport and CO2 fixation were unchanged and there was no photoinhibition. The maximum catalytic activities of the Benson-Calvin cycle enzymes, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase, were decreased following chilling, but activation was unaffected. Measurements of thiol-regulated enzymes, particularly NADP-malate dehydrogenase, indicated that chilling induced changes in the stromal redox state so that reducing equivalents were more plentiful. We conclude that chilling produces a decrease in photosynthetic capacity without changing the internal operational, regulatory or stoichiometric relationships between photosynthetic electron transport and carbon assimilation. The enzymes of carbon assimilation are particularly sensitive to chilling, but enhanced activation may compensate for decreases in maximal catalytic activity.

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