The involvement of the photoinhibition of photosystem II and impaired membrane energization in the reduced quantum yield of carbon assimilation in chilled maize

Adriana Ortiz-Lopez, Gui Ying Nie, Donald R. Ort, Neil R. Baker

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In this study we investigated the basis for the reduction in the quantum yield of carbon assimilation in maize (Zea mays L. cv. LG11) caused by chilling in high light. After chilling attached maize leaves at 5° C for 6 h at high irradiance (1000 μmol photons·m-2·s-1) chlorophyll fluorescence measurements indicated a serious effect on the efficiency of photochemical conversion by photosystem II (PSII) and measurements of [14C]atrazine binding showed that the plastoquinone binding site was altered in more than half of the PSII reaction centres. Although there were no direct effects of the chilling treatment on coupling-factor activity, ATP-formation capacity was affected because the photoinhibition of PSII led to a reduced capacity to energize the thylakoid membranes. In contrast to chilling at high irradiance, no photoinhibition of PSII accompanied the 20% decrease in the quantum yield of carbon assimilation when attached maize leaves were chilled in low light (50 μmol photons·m-2·s-1). Thus it is clear that photoinhibition of PSII is not the sole cause of the light-dependent, chillinduced decrease in the quantum yield of carbon assimilation. During the recovery of photosynthesis from the chilling treatment it was observed that full [14C]atrazinebinding capacity and membrane-energization capacity recovered significantly more slowly than the quantum yield of carbon assimilation. Thus, not only is photoinhibition of PSII not the sole cause for the decreased quantum yield of carbon assimilation, apparently an appreciable population of photoinhibited PSII centres can be tolerated without any reduction in the quantum yield of carbon assimilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Chilling
  • Coupling factor
  • Photoinhibition of photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis (photoinhibition)
  • Quantum yield
  • Thylakoid energization
  • Zea (photoinhibition)

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