Biochemical photosynthetic responses to temperature: How do interspecific differences compare with seasonal shifts?

Yan Shih Lin*, Belinda E. Medlyn, Martin G. De Kauwe, David S. Ellsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Plants show flexible acclimation of leaf photosynthesis to temperature that depends both on their prevailing growth environment and the climate where they originated. This acclimation has been shown to involve changes in the temperature responses of the apparent maximum rate of Rubisco carboxylation (Vcmax) and apparent maximum rate of electron transport (J max), as well as changes in the ratio of these parameters. We asked whether such changes in photosynthetic biochemistry attributable to climate of origin are similar in nature and magnitude to those attributable to growth environment. To address this question, we measured temperature responses of photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence on six Eucalyptus species from diverse geographical and climatic regions growing in a common garden. Measurements were made in three seasons, allowing us to compare interspecific differences with seasonal changes. We found significant interspecific differences in apparent Vcmax and Jmaxstandardized to 25 °C, but there were no significant differences in the temperature responses of these parameters among species. Comparing data across seasons, we found significant seasonal changes in apparent Vcmax25, but not in J max25, causing a change in their ratio (J/V ratio). However, there were no seasonal changes in the temperature response of either parameter. We concluded that the growth environment had a much larger effect on temperature response than climate of origin among this set of species. Mean daytime temperature increased by 15 °C from winter to summer, whereas we esti-mated that the seasonal change in J/V ratio would cause a change in the optimum temperature (Topt) for gross photosynthesis of 3.6 °C. Use of a general relationship to describe photosynthetic temperature acclimation resulted in a strong underestimation of the Topt for photosynthesis for these species. Our results indicated that variation in photosynthetic temperature responses cannot be captured in one simple relationship with growth temperature. Further comparative research on species groups will be needed to develop a basis for modelling these interspecific differences in plant temperature acclimation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)793-806
    Number of pages14
    JournalTree physiology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


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