Shoot architecture may significantly alter mean quantum flux on foliage and thus, photosynthetic productivity. There is currently only limited information about plastic alterations in shoot structure caused by within-canopy variation in mean integrated irradiance (Qint) in broad-leaved trees. We studied leaf and shoot structure, and nitrogen and carbon content in late-successional, widely distributed, temperate, broad- leaved Nothofagus taxa to determine the architectural controls on light harvesting and photosynthetic performance. Nothofagus fusca (Hook. f.) Oersted has larger leaves and less densely leaved shoots than the N. solandri varieties. Nothofagus solandri var. solandri (Hook. f.) Oersted is characterized by rounder leaves that potentially have a larger overlap than the ovate-triangular leaves of N. solandri var. cliffortioides (Hook. f.) Poole. Leaf dry mass (MA) and nitrogen content (NA) per unit area increased with increasing Qint in all species, demonstrating enhanced investment of photosynthetic biomass in high light. Although MA differed between species at a common irradiance, there was a uniform relationship between NA and Qint across species. Leaf carbon content per dry mass and leaf dry mass to fresh mass ratio also scaled positively with irradiance, suggesting greater structural investments in high light. In all species, shoots became more horizontal and flatter at lower Qint, implying an enhanced use efficiency of direct irradiance in natural leaf positions. In contrast, irradiance effects on leaf aggregation varied among species. Across the data, leaf overlap or leaf area density was often greater at lower irradiances, possibly as a result of limited carbon availability for shoot axis extension growth. In N. fusca, leaves of which were more aggregated in high light, the shoot silhouette to total leaf area ratio (SS) declined strongly with increasing irradiance, demonstrating a lower light harvesting efficiency at high Qint. This effect was only moderate in N. solandri var. cliffortioides and SS was independent of Qint in N. solandri var. solandri. Although the efficiency of light interception at high irradiances was lowest in N. fusca, this species had the greatest nitrogen content per unit shoot silhouette area (2NA/SS), indicating superior shoot-level photosynthetic potential. These data collectively demonstrate that shoot architecture significantly affects light interception and photosynthesis in broad-leaved trees, and that structural carbon limitations may constrain leaf light harvesting efficiency at low irradiance.

Niinemets, Ü.; Cescatti, A.; Christian, R. (2004). Constraints on light interception efficiency due to shoot architecture in broad-leaved Nothofagus species. TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 24 (6): 617-630. doi: 10.1093/treephys/24.6.617 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21064

Constraints on light interception efficiency due to shoot architecture in broad-leaved Nothofagus species

Niinemets, Ülo;
2004-01-01

Abstract

Shoot architecture may significantly alter mean quantum flux on foliage and thus, photosynthetic productivity. There is currently only limited information about plastic alterations in shoot structure caused by within-canopy variation in mean integrated irradiance (Qint) in broad-leaved trees. We studied leaf and shoot structure, and nitrogen and carbon content in late-successional, widely distributed, temperate, broad- leaved Nothofagus taxa to determine the architectural controls on light harvesting and photosynthetic performance. Nothofagus fusca (Hook. f.) Oersted has larger leaves and less densely leaved shoots than the N. solandri varieties. Nothofagus solandri var. solandri (Hook. f.) Oersted is characterized by rounder leaves that potentially have a larger overlap than the ovate-triangular leaves of N. solandri var. cliffortioides (Hook. f.) Poole. Leaf dry mass (MA) and nitrogen content (NA) per unit area increased with increasing Qint in all species, demonstrating enhanced investment of photosynthetic biomass in high light. Although MA differed between species at a common irradiance, there was a uniform relationship between NA and Qint across species. Leaf carbon content per dry mass and leaf dry mass to fresh mass ratio also scaled positively with irradiance, suggesting greater structural investments in high light. In all species, shoots became more horizontal and flatter at lower Qint, implying an enhanced use efficiency of direct irradiance in natural leaf positions. In contrast, irradiance effects on leaf aggregation varied among species. Across the data, leaf overlap or leaf area density was often greater at lower irradiances, possibly as a result of limited carbon availability for shoot axis extension growth. In N. fusca, leaves of which were more aggregated in high light, the shoot silhouette to total leaf area ratio (SS) declined strongly with increasing irradiance, demonstrating a lower light harvesting efficiency at high Qint. This effect was only moderate in N. solandri var. cliffortioides and SS was independent of Qint in N. solandri var. solandri. Although the efficiency of light interception at high irradiances was lowest in N. fusca, this species had the greatest nitrogen content per unit shoot silhouette area (2NA/SS), indicating superior shoot-level photosynthetic potential. These data collectively demonstrate that shoot architecture significantly affects light interception and photosynthesis in broad-leaved trees, and that structural carbon limitations may constrain leaf light harvesting efficiency at low irradiance.
Dry mass per unit area
Leaf clumping
Leaf morphology
Light harvesting
Nitrogen content
Radiative transfer
Shoot morphology
2004
Niinemets, Ü.; Cescatti, A.; Christian, R. (2004). Constraints on light interception efficiency due to shoot architecture in broad-leaved Nothofagus species. TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 24 (6): 617-630. doi: 10.1093/treephys/24.6.617 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21064
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