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Kent E. Cushman, Theodore W. Tibbitts, Thomas D. Sharkey, and Robert R. Wise

Expanding leaflets of young `Kennebec' potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) develop visible necrotic spotting after 8 to 9 days of constant light and constant temperature, but little is known about this disorder before the appearance of injury. Whole-leaf autoradiography and iodine staining of terminal leaflets (5 to 10 mm long at the beginning of the constant-light period) showed a normal pattern of CO2 assimilation and starch content over the entire leaflet surface after 5 days of constant light. However, small areas of tissue devoid of CO2 assimilation and starch content became apparent on day 6, and these areas expanded to encompass much of the leaflet's medial and basal regions by day 7. At this stage of leaf development, on day 7, leaflets had attained 50% of their final leaflet length and ceased importing photosynthates from other leaves. Electron micrographs of chloroplasts from the medial and basal regions of leaflets on day 7 revealed a loss of membrane integrity and a senescence-like appearance. At this time, and within these affected regions, scattered groups of necrotic palisade cells began to appear. These scattered groups soon expanded in size and distribution and became apparent as visible necrotic spots on the upper leaflet surface by day 8 or 9. Leaflets on plants grown under constant light hut alternating temperatures, an environment known to be noninjurious, did not exhibit visible spotting or tissue devoid of starch content. In addition, none of these injury symptoms developed in `Denali', a potato cultivar tolerant of constant light. Despite its occurrence in expanding leaf tissue, constant-light injury appears to be a senescence-like event that leads to the catastrophic loss of photosynthetic competence, starch content, and chloroplast membrane integrity, producing chlorosis and necrosis of leaves and eventually stunting the plant.