The responses of photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, and de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle pigments (DEPS) of micropropagated apple trees (Malus ×domestica) were investigated under whole-root water stress (WRS) and half-root water stress (HRS) induced by polyethylene glycol 6000 to simulate whole and partial root zone drying. Compared with control plants without water stress, plants under WRS and HRS exhibited reduced leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and stomatal conductance (gS) with a greater reduction in WRS than in HRS plants. However, intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci) increased under WRS as water stress was prolonged, signifying a non-stomatal limitation of Pn. Regarding HRS, decreased Pn was mainly the result of a stomatal limitation explained by a relatively low Ci. Changes in photosynthesis and chlorophyll parameters indicate that severe and slight damage occurred to the photosynthetic apparatus of WRS and HRS leaves, respectively, starting at Day 3 after initiating water stress. This damage was not evident on the donor side but was expressed as a reduced capacity of the acceptor side of the photosystem II reaction centers. To prevent damage from excess light, the DEPS of WRS leaf increased. Decreased gS could explain reduced water use under an irrigation strategy of partial root zone drying in fruit trees.
In ‘Beijing 24’ peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batch] trees, a series of source leaves with differing levels of end products were created by retaining fruit (“+fruit”), removing fruit (“−fruit”), or reducing the light period. To alter the light period, leaves were covered with a bag made of brown inner paper and outer silver paper, which was then removed at different times the next day. The highest level of end products were obtained by fruit removal, while reducing the light period resulted in a lower level than “+fruit.” Net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and stomatal conductance (gs) decreased, but leaf temperatures (Tleaf) increased, following an increase in end product levels in leaves. After the “−fruit” treatment, reduced Pn was correlated with lower gs, and Tleaf increase was concomitant with decreases in maximal quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm), actual photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (ΦPSII), and photochemical quenching, and with an increase in nonphotochemical quenching. However, there were no significant differences in chlorophyll fluorescence between “+fruit” and the two treatments reducing the light period. The ΦPSII decreased following an increase in foliar sorbitol level, and it linearly decreased as sucrose and starch increased. Although fruit removal resulted in a significant accumulation of sucrose, sorbitol, and starch in leaves throughout the day, the extractable activities of several important enzymes involved in carbohydrate leaf storage and translocation did not decrease. Therefore, instead of feedback regulation by the accumulation of end products in source leaves, a high Tleaf induced by decreased stomatal aperture may play a key role in regulation of photosynthesis by limiting the photochemical efficiency of the PSII reaction centers under high levels of the end products in peach leaves.