Photosynthetic acclimation in relation to nitrogen allocation in cucumber leaves in response to changes in irradiance

G. Trouwborst, S.W. Hogewoning, J. Harbinson, W. van Ieperen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Leaves deep in canopies can suddenly be exposed to increased irradiances following e.g. gap formation in forests or pruning in crops. Studies on the acclimation of photosynthesis to increased irradiance have mainly focused on the changes in photosynthetic capacity (Amax), although actual irradiance often remains below saturating level. We investigated the effect of changes in irradiance on the photosynthesis irradiance response and on nitrogen allocation in fully grown leaves of Cucumis sativus. Leaves that fully developed under low (50 µmol m-2 s-1) or moderate (200 µmol m-2 s-1) irradiance were subsequently exposed to, respectively, moderate (LM-leaves) or low (ML-leaves) irradiance or kept at constant irradiance level (LL- and MM-leaves). Acclimation of photosynthesis occurred within 7 days with final Amax highest in MM-leaves, lowest in LL-leaves and intermediate in ML- and LM-leaves, whereas full acclimation of thylakoid processes underlying photosystem II (PSII) efficiency and non-photochemical quenching occurred in ML- and LM-leaves. Dark respiration correlated with irradiance level, but not with Amax. Light-limited quantum efficiency was similar in all leaves. The increase in photosynthesis at moderate irradiance in LM-leaves was primarily driven by nitrogen import, and nitrogen remained allocated in a similar ratio to Rubisco and bioenergetics, while allocation to light harvesting relatively decreased. A contrary response of nitrogen was associated with the decrease in photosynthesis in ML-leaves. Net assimilation of LM-leaves under moderate irradiance remained lower than in MM-leaves, revealing the importance of photosynthetic acclimation during the leaf developmental phase for crop productivity in scenarios with realistic, moderate fluctuations in irradiance that leaves can be exposed to
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-169
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • mesophyll diffusion conductance
  • chlorophyll-a fluorescence
  • season canopy gap
  • light-acclimation
  • leaf anatomy
  • temperature response
  • c-3 photosynthesis
  • electron-transport
  • biochemical-model
  • growth irradiance


Dive into the research topics of 'Photosynthetic acclimation in relation to nitrogen allocation in cucumber leaves in response to changes in irradiance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this