Journal Article

Large-scale canopy opening causes decreased photosynthesis in the saplings of shade-tolerant conifer, <i>Abies veitchii</i>

Masako Mitamura, Yasuo Yamamura and Takashi Nakano

in Tree Physiology

Volume 29, issue 1, pages 137-145
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpn014
Large-scale canopy opening causes decreased photosynthesis in the saplings of shade-tolerant conifer, Abies veitchii

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Although the environmental change by canopy gap formation in a forest improves the light availability for the saplings on the forest floor, it may result in stresses on the saplings due to high radiation and drought. In large-scale gaps, the photosynthesis of shade-tolerant species may be inhibited by high radiation and drought stress if they lack effective tolerance or avoidance mechanisms for the stresses. We investigated the photosynthetic traits and water relations of Abies veitchii Lindl. saplings in an open habitat created by an avalanche and in a nearby forest floor habitat undisturbed by the avalanche. We analyzed the influence of exposed conditions on sapling photosynthesis. The maximum photosynthetic rate of the saplings in the open habitat was lower than that in the forest habitat. The ratio of variable to maximum chlorophyll fluorescence (F v/F m) was lower in the open habitat than that in the forest habitat during the late growing season, indicating that the open habitat saplings suffer photoinhibition of photosystem II for a long period. A lower Rubisco concentration in needles in the open habitat indicated the breakdown of this photosynthetic protein because of excess solar energy resulting from serious photoinhibition. The shoot water potential of the saplings in the open habitat at daytime was higher than that of the saplings in the forest habitat because of less transpiration caused by the remarkable stomatal closure in the open habitat. Although these acclimations to high radiation improve the tolerance of A. veitchii saplings to high radiation and drought stress, they would result in low gain of daily carbon and a reduction in growth in the open habitat.

Keywords: avalanche; canopy gap; chlorophyll fluorescence; light acclimation; photoinhibition; Rubisco

Journal Article.  6184 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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