Do rapid photosynthetic responses protect maize leaves against photoinhibition under fluctuating light?

Mei Yu Qiao, Ya Jun Zhang, Li An Liu, Lei Shi, Qing Hu Ma, Wah Soon Chow, Chuang Dao Jiang*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Plants in their natural environment are often exposed to fluctuating light because of self-shading and cloud movements. As changing frequency is a key characteristic of fluctuating light, we speculated that rapid light fluctuation may induce rapid photosynthetic responses, which may protect leaves against photoinhibition. To test this hypothesis, maize seedlings were grown under fluctuating light with various frequencies (1, 10, and 100 cycles of fluctuations/10 h), and changes in growth, chlorophyll content, gas exchange, chlorophyll a fluorescence, and P700 were analyzed carefully. Our data show that though the growth and light-saturated photosynthetic rate were depressed by rapidly fluctuating light, photosynthesis induction was clearly speeded up. Furthermore, more rapid fluctuation of light strikingly reduced the chlorophyll content, while thermal dissipation was triggered and enhanced. The chlorophyll a fluorescence induction kinetics and P700 absorption results showed that the activities of both photosystem II and photosystem I decreased as the frequency of the fluctuating light increased. In all treatments, the light intensities of the fluctuating light were kept constant. Therefore, rapid light fluctuation frequency itself induced the acceleration of photosynthetic induction and the enhancement of photoprotection in maize seedlings, which play important roles in protecting photosynthetic apparatus against fluctuating high light to a certain extent.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-68
    Number of pages12
    JournalPhotosynthesis Research
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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