Acclimation of photosynthesis in canopies: Models and limitations

  • Kull O
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Within a time-scale of several days photosynthesis can acclimate to light by variation in the capacity for photosynthesis with depth in a canopy or by variation in the stoichiometry of photosynthetic components at each position within the canopy. The changes in leaf photosynthetic capacity are usually related to and expressed as changes in leaf nitrogen content. However, photosynthetic capacity and leaf nitrogen never match exactly the photon flux density (PFD) gradient within a canopy. As a result, photosynthetic light use efficiency, i.e. photosynthetic performance per incident PFD, increases considerably from the top of the canopy to the lower shaded part. Many of existing optimisation models fail to express the actual pattern of nitrogen or photosynthetic capacity distribution within a canopy. This failure occurs because these optimisation models do not consider that the quantitative aspect of photosynthesis acclimation is a whole plant phenomenon. Although turnover models, which describe the distribution of the photosynthetic apparatus within a canopy as a dynamic equilibrium between breakdown and regeneration of apparatus with respect to nitrogen availability, photosynthetic rate and export of carbohydrates, produce realistic results, these models require confirmation. The mechanism responsible for changes in the relative share of light-harvesting apparatus as acclimation to irradiance remains unknown. Ability of the photosynthetic apparatus to bal- ance properly the light harvesting capacity with electron transport and biochemical capacities is limited. As a result of this fundamental limitation, photosynthetic light use efficiency always increases with increasing thickness of the photosynthetic apparatus.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chlorophyll
  • Leaf nitrogen
  • Light response curve
  • Optimality
  • Turnover theory

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  • Olevi Kull

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