Acclimation of photosynthesis to lightflecks in tomato leaves: interaction with progressive shading in a growing canopy

M.E. Kaiser*, Shizue Matsubara, J. Harbinson, E. Heuvelink, L.F.M. Marcelis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Plants in natural environments are often exposed to fluctuations in light intensity, and leaf-level acclimation to light may be affected by those fluctuations. Concurrently, leaves acclimated to a given light climate can become progressively shaded as new leaves emerge and grow above them. Acclimation to shade alters characteristics such as photosynthetic capacity. To investigate the interaction of fluctuating light and progressive shading, we exposed three-week old tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants to either lightflecks or constant light intensities. Lightflecks of 20 s length and 1000 μmol m-2  s-1 peak intensity were applied every 5 min for 16 h per day, for 3 weeks. Lightfleck and constant light treatments received identical daily light sums (15.2 mol m-2  day-1 ). Photosynthesis was monitored in leaves 2 and 4 (counting from the bottom) during canopy development throughout the experiment. Several dynamic and steady-state characteristics of photosynthesis became enhanced by fluctuating light when leaves were partially shaded by the upper canopy, but much less so when they were fully exposed to lightflecks. This was the case for CO2 -saturated photosynthesis rates in leaves 2 and 4 growing under lightflecks 14 days into the treatment period. Also, leaf 2 of plants in the lightfleck treatment showed significantly faster rates of photosynthetic induction when exposed to a stepwise change in light intensity on day 15. As the plants grew larger and these leaves became increasingly shaded, acclimation of leaf-level photosynthesis to lightflecks disappeared. These results highlight continuous acclimation of leaf photosynthesis to changing light conditions inside developing canopies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-517
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number4
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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