The mechanism of response of plants to vertical light intensity gradients in leaf canopies was investigated. Since shaded leaves transpire less than leaves in high light, it was hypothesized that cytokinins (CKs) carried by mass transport in the transpiration stream would be distributed over the leaf area of partially shaded plants parallel to the gradient in light intensity. It was also hypothesized that this causes the distribution of leaf growth, leaf N and photosynthetic capacity, and possibly chloroplast acclimation as observed in plants growing in leaf canopies. In a field experiment, the distribution of Ca, N and CKs in a bean leaf canopy of a dense and an open stand supported the concept of a role for CKs in the response of N allocation to the light gradient when a decreasing sensitivity for CKs with increasing leaf age is assumed. Both shading of one leaf of the pair of primary bean leaves and independent reduction of its transpiration rate in a growth cabinet experiment caused lower dry mass, N and Ca per unit leaf area in comparison to the opposite not treated leaf. Shading caused a parallel reduction in CK concentration, which supports the hypothesis, but independent reduction of transpiration rate failed to do the same. Application of benzylaminopurine (BA) counteracted the reduction caused by shade of leaf N, photosynthetic capacity and leaf area growth. The experiments show an important role for the transpiration stream in the response of plants to light gradients. Evidence is presented here that CKs carried in the transpiration stream may be important mediators for the acclimation of plants to leaf canopy density.
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Botany|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|