Journal Article

Electron transport efficiency at opposite leaf sides: effect of vertical distribution of leaf angle, structure, chlorophyll content and species in a forest canopy

Pille Mänd, Lea Hallik, Josep Peñuelas and Olevi Kull

Edited by Jörg-Peter Schnitzler

in Tree Physiology

Volume 33, issue 2, pages 202-210
Published in print February 2013 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online November 2012 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tps112
Electron transport efficiency at opposite leaf sides: effect of vertical distribution of leaf angle, structure, chlorophyll content and species in a forest canopy

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We investigated changes in chlorophyll a fluorescence from alternate leaf surfaces to assess the intraleaf light acclimation patterns in combination with natural variations in radiation, leaf angles, leaf mass per area (LMA), chlorophyll content (Chl) and leaf optical parameters. Measurements were conducted on bottom- and top-layer leaves of Tilia cordata Mill. (a shade-tolerant sub-canopy species, sampled at heights of 11 and 16 m) and Populus tremula L. (a light-demanding upper canopy species, sampled at canopy heights of 19 and 26 m). The upper canopy species P. tremula had a six times higher PSII quantum yield (ΦII) and ratio of open reaction centres (qP), and a two times higher LMA than T. cordata. These species-specific differences were also present when the leaves of both species were in similar light conditions. Leaf adaxial/abaxial fluorescence ratio was significantly larger in the case of more horizontal leaves. Populus tremula (more vertical leaves), had smaller differences in fluorescence parameters between alternate leaf sides compared with T. cordata (more horizontal leaves). However, optical properties on alternate leaf sides showed a larger difference for P. tremula. Intraspecifically, the measured optical parameters were better correlated with LMA than with leaf Chl. Species-specific differences in leaf anatomy appear to enhance the photosynthetic potential of leaf biochemistry by decreasing the interception of excess light in P. tremula and increasing the light absorptance in T. cordata. Our results indicate that intraleaf light absorption gradient, described here as leaf adaxial/abaxial side ratio of chlorophyll a fluorescence, varies significantly with changes in leaf light environment in a multi-layer multi-species tree canopy. However, this variation cannot be described merely as a simple function of radiation, leaf angle, Chl or LMA, and species-specific differences in light acclimation strategies should also be considered.

Keywords: chlorophyll fluorescence; chloroplast acclimation; leaf inclination angle distribution; leaf optics; photochemical quenching; reflectance; transmittance; within-canopy variability

Journal Article.  5499 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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