Photochemical Acclimation of Three Contrasting Species to Different Light Levels: Implications for Optimizing Supplemental Lighting

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Photosynthetic responses to light are dependent on light intensity, vary among species, and can be affected by acclimation to different light environments (e.g., light intensity, spectrum, and photoperiod). Understanding how these factors affect photochemistry is important for improving supplemental lighting efficiency in controlled-environment agriculture. We used chlorophyll fluorescence to determine photochemical light response curves of three horticultural crops with contrasting light requirements [sweetpotato (Ipomea batatas), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), and pothos (Epipremnum aureum)]. We also quantified how these responses were affected by acclimation to three shading treatments-full sun, 44% shade, and 75% shade. The quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII), a measure of photochemical efficiency, decreased exponentially with increasing photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) in all three species. By contrast, linear electron transport rate (ETR) increased asymptotically with increasing PPF. Within each shading level, the high-light-adapted species sweetpotato used high light more efficiently for electron transport than light-intermediate lettuce and shade-tolerant pothos. Within a species, plants acclimated to high light (full sun) tended to have higher ΦPSII and ETR than those acclimated to low light (44% or 75% shade). Nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) (an indicator of the amount of absorbed light energy that is dissipated as heat) was upregulated with increasing PPF; faster upregulation was observed in pothos as well as in plants grown under 75% shade. Our results have implications for supplemental lighting: supplemental light is used more efficiently and results in a greater increase in ETR when provided at low ambient PPF. In addition, high-light-adapted crops and crops grown under relatively high ambient light can use supplemental light more efficiently than low-light-adapted crops or those grown under low ambient light.

Contributor Notes

We thank the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, American Floral Endowment, and Georgia Research Alliance for financial support for this research. This work was also supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project 1011550.

We thank Robert Teskey and Paul Thomas for providing feedback on this article. We thank Sue Dove for technical support.

Corresponding author. E-mail: syzhen@uga.edu.

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Article Figures

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    Dark-adapted Fv/Fm of sweetpotato, lettuce and pothos at three shading levels. Within each species, different uppercase letters indicate significance at P < 0.05 among the shading levels (n = 6). Within each shading level, different lowercase letters indicate significance at P < 0.05 among the species. Error bars represent SE (n = 6).

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    Light response curves of quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII) (AC), linear electron transport rate (ETR) (DF), and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) (GI) for sweetpotato (A, D, G), lettuce (B, E, H), and pothos (C, F, I) grown under full sun, 44% shade, and 75% shade. PPF stands for photosynthetic photon flux. Each regression curve was fitted using data pooled from six replications with gray lines representing the 95% confidence intervals.

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    Initial slope of the quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII)–photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) curve, an indicator of how fast ΦPSII decreased when plant was transferred from dark to light, of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (A) and by shading level (B). Predicted ΦPSII at PPF of 500 μmol·m−2·s−1 of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (C) and by shading level (D). There was no significant species × shading level interaction for both variables. Error bars represent se [n = 18 (3 species/shading levels × 6 replications)]. Different letters indicate significance at P < 0.05.

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    Initial slope of the electron transport rate (ETR)–photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) curve, an estimate of the maximum rate of increase in ETR per unit increase in incident PPF, of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (A) and by shading level (B). Predicted ETR at PPF of 500 μmol·m−2·s−1 of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (C) and by shading level (D). Error bars represent se [n = 18 (3 species/shading levels × 6 replications)]. Different letters indicate significance at P < 0.05. ns represents nonsignificance.

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    Initial slope of the non-photochemical quenching (NPQ)–photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) curve, which is indicative of the rate of increase in heat dissipation of the absorbed light upon transfer of plants from dark to light, of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (A) and by shading level (B). Predicted NPQ at PPF of 500 μmol·m−2·s−1 of sweetpotato, lettuce, and pothos (C) and by shading level (D). Error bars represent se [n = 18 (3 species/shading levels × 6 replications)]. Different letters indicate significance at P < 0.05.

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    The estimated increase in electron transport rate (ETR) that can be achieved by providing supplemental light of 50–250 μmol·m−2·s−1 to different intensities of ambient (sunlight) photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). The curves for sweetpotato (A, D), lettuce (B, E), and pothos (C, F) grown under full sun (AC) and 75% shade (D and E) were derived from the corresponding light response curves of ETR as shown in Fig. 2D–F.

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