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J Exp Bot. 2005 Jan;56(411):425-33. Epub 2004 Dec 13.

Leaf movements and photoinhibition in relation to water stress in field-grown beans.

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Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Universidad de Chile, Departamento de Producción Agrícola, Laboratorio de Fisiología del Estrés en Plantas, Casilla 1004, Santiago, Chile.


Photoinhibition in plants depends on the extent of light energy being absorbed in excess of what can be used in photochemistry and is expected to increase as environmental constraints limit CO2 assimilation. Water stress induces the closure of stomata, limiting carbon availability at the carboxylation sites in the chloroplasts and, therefore, resulting in an excessive excitation of the photosynthetic apparatus, particularly photosystem II (PSII). Mechanisms have evolved in plants in order to protect against photoinhibition, such as non-photochemical energy dissipation, chlorophyll concentration changes, chloroplast movements, increases in the capacity for scavenging the active oxygen species, and leaf movement or paraheliotropism, avoiding direct exposure to sun. In beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), paraheliotropism seems to be an important feature of the plant to avoid photoinhibition. The extent of the leaf movement is increased as the water potential drops, reducing light interception and maintaining a high proportion of open PSII reaction centres. Photoinhibition in water-stressed beans, measured as the capacity to recover F(v)/F(m), is not higher than in well-watered plants and leaf temperature is maintained below the ambient, despite the closure of stomata. Bean leaves restrained from moving, increase leaf temperature and reduce qP, the content of D1 protein and the capacity to recover F(v)/F(m) after dark adaptation, the extent of such changes being higher in water-stressed plants. Data are presented suggesting that even though protective under water stress, paraheliotropism, by reducing light interception, affects the capacity to maintain high CO2 assimilation rates throughout the day in well-watered plants.

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