Leaf anatomy as a constraint for photosynthetic acclimation: Differential responses in leaf anatomy to increasing growth irradiance among three deciduous trees

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Abstract

Interspecific variation in the response to transfer from low to high growth irradiance with respect to anatomical and photosynthetic characteristics was studied in mature leaves of three tree species, Betula ermanii Cham., Acer rufinerve Sieb, et Zucc. and Fagus crenata Blume, which occur in different successional stages in temperate deciduous forests. Transfer from low to high irradiance increased the light-saturated rate of photosynthesis per unit leaf area (Pmax) significantly in B. ermanii and A. rufinerve, but not in F. crenata. Leaves of B. ermanii grown at low irradiance were relatively thick and had vacant spaces along the mesophyll cell surfaces which was not occupied by chloroplasts or other organelles. After transfer to high irradiance, chloroplasts enlarged to fill the space along with Pmax without an increase in leaf thickness. Leaves of A. rufinerve were plastic in mesophyll cell surface area and in leaf thickness, both of which increased after the transfer to high irradiance, along with an increase in the amount of chloroplasts and in Pmax. On the other hand, F. crenata had little mesophyll cell surface unoccupied by chloroplasts and leaf anatomy was not changed after the transfer. In all species, Pmax was strongly correlated with chloroplast surface area adjacent to the exposed mesophyll surface across different growth irradiances. An increase in Pmax was observed only when chloroplast volume also increased. We conclude that light acclimation potential is primarily determined by the availability of unoccupied cell surface into which chloroplasts expand, as well as by the plasticity of the mesophyll that allows an increase in its surface area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-927
Number of pages12
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Volume28
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jul 1

Keywords

  • Acclimation potential
  • Chloroplasts
  • Leaf anatomy
  • Leaf nitrogen
  • Mature leaves
  • Photosynthetic capacity
  • Sun/ shade acclimation
  • Transfer experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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