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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

CASANOVA-KATNY, M. ANGÉLICA et al. Photosynthetic performance of Colobanthus quitensis (Kunth) Bartl. (Caryophyllaceae) in a high-elevation site of the Andes of central Chile . Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2006, vol.79, n.1, pp.41-53. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2006000100004.

Photosynthesis of Colobanthus quitensis and mesoclimatic conditions of air temperature and light intensity during the growing season were investigated at 2,650 m in the central Chilean Andes. On three typical days of the growing period (January, March and May), CO2 exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence were measured. In addition, a series of fluorescence response curves with increasing light intensity at different temperatures were performed to estimate the propensity of Andean C. quitensis populations to be photoinhibited. Net Photosynthesis (Pn) was low (ca. 2.0 mmol CO2 m-2s-1) during the morning and noon in days with high photosynthetic active radiation (PAR, above 1,800 mmol photons m-2s-1). Pn increased in the afternoon (3.5-4.8 mmol CO2 m-2s-1) when PAR decreased to ca. 1,400 mmol photons m-2s-1 and leaf temperature were ca. 20 °C. Fv/Fm in the diurnal periods was between 0.7-0.75 without evidence of photoinhibition. Leaves at 15 and 22 °C exhibited a slow decrease of FPSII with the increase in actinic light intensity, although the fraction of reaction centers open (expressed by qP) remained higher at 22 °C. NPQ was saturated at light intensities close to 500 mmol photons m-2s-1 in leaves at 22 °C and at higher intensities at 15 °C, suggesting that NPQ could be a mechanism of energy dissipation at high light intensity and high leaf temperature in the field. Our results indicated that C. quitensis is not photodamaged during the diurnal cycle and that the low Pn registered during some diurnal periods are likely to be related with photorespiration, which has been suggested as an efficient protective mechanism for photoinhibition in alpine plants. Our results are also compared with the photosynthetic performance of C. quitensis populations from the maritime Antarctic

Keywords : net photosynthesis; chlorophyll fluorescence; NPQ; alpine climate; alpine plants; Andes.

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