Plasticity in Leaf and Photosynthetic Characteristics of Ficus benjamina Ggrown under Different Lght Regimes

in HortScience
Authors:
Qibing WangUniv. of Florida, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, Apopka, FL 32703

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Jianjun Chen*Univ. of Florida, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, Apopka, FL 32703

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Ficus benjamina is considered to have a high degree of morphological and physiological plasticity in response to light levels. In this study, leaf area and thickness, specific leaf area (SLA), chlorophyll content, and photosynthetic characteristics of Ficus benjamina `Common'; grown in a shaded greenhouse under four maximum photosynthetic photon flux densities (PPFDs) of 150, 250, 450, or 650 μmol·m-2·s-1 were investigated. Results showed that plants grown under 450 and 650 PPFDs had higher SLA and leaf thickness but smaller leaf areas than those grown under 150 and 250 PPFDs. Total chlorophyll content per unit leaf area decreased as PPFDs increased. Net photosynthetic rates (Pn) increased from 2.7 μmol·m-2·s-1 under 150 PPFD to 5.7 μmol·m-2·s-1 under 450 PPFD, then slightly decreased to 5.5 μmol·m-2·s-1 under 650 PPFD. The highest net photosynthetic rate was not associated with higher intercellular CO2 concentrations (Ci) and stomatal conductance (gs) as plants grown under 250 PPFD had the highest (Ci) (259 ppm) and gs (0.1 mol·m-2·s-1), which suggests that photosynthetic enzymes could play a increasing role under 450 PPFD. Plant quality, however, was not necessarily correlated with the Pn because only those grown under 250 PPFD had appropriate heights, large and dark green leaves, and well-spread branches, and thus were graded higher than plants grown under the other PPFDs. This study shows that fine-tuning production light level is important for high quality Ficus benjamina production.

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