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Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Apr;29(4):720-8.

Low growth temperatures modify the efficiency of light use by photosystem II for CO2 assimilation in leaves of two chilling-tolerant C4 species, Cyperus longus L. and Miscanthus x giganteus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, Essex, UK.


Two C4 plants, Miscanthus x giganteus and Cyperus longus L., were grown at suboptimal growth temperatures and the relationships between the quantum efficiencies of photosynthetic electron transport through photosystem II (PSII) (PSII operating efficiency; Fq'/Fm') and CO2 assimilation (phiCO2) in leaves were examined. When M. x giganteus was grown at 10 degrees C, the ratio of the PSII operating efficiency to phiCO2 increased relative to that found in leaves grown at 14 and 25 degrees C. Similar increases in the Fq'/Fm': phiCO2 occurred in the leaves of two C. longus ecotypes when the plants were grown at 17 degrees C, compared to 25 degrees C. These elevations of Fq'/Fm': phiCO2 at low growth temperatures were not attributable to the development of anthocyanins, as has been suggested for maize, and were indicative of the operation of an alternative sink to CO2 assimilation for photosynthetic reducing equivalents, possibly oxygen reduction via a Mehler reaction, which would act as a mechanism for protection of PSII from photoinactivation and damage. Furthermore, in M. x giganteus grown at 10 degrees C, further protection of PSII was effected by a 20-fold increase in zeaxanthin content in dark-adapted leaves, which was associated with much higher levels of non-photochemical quenching of excitation energy, compared to that observed in leaves grown at 14 and 25 degrees C. These differences may explain the long growing season and remarkable productivity of this C4 plant in cool climates, even in comparison to other C4 species such as C. longus, which occur naturally in such climates.

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