Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (11): 1093-1100.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0106

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Physiological responses and photo-protective mechanisms of two Rhododendron plants to natural sunlight after long term shading

HU Wen-Hai1,2,*, ZHANG Si-Si2, XIAO Yi-An1,2, YAN Xiao-Hong1,2   

  1. 1School of Life Sciences, Jinggangshan University, Ji’an, Jiangxi 343009, China
    2Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Jiangxi Province, Ji’an, Jiangxi 343009, China
  • Received:2015-04-15 Accepted:2015-09-30 Online:2015-11-01 Published:2015-12-02
  • Contact: Wen-Hai HU
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    # Co-first authors


AimsResponses of plants to increased irradiance are governed by two strategies: an increase in the utilization of absorbed light and photo-protective mechanisms. Varied physiological responses to increased irradiance were observed in plant species with differing adaptabilities to light regimes. This research aims to explore the physiological responses and photo-protective mechanisms of two Rhododendron plants to changes in light regimes. MethodsChlorophyll fluorescence parameters and rapid light curves were measured for leaves of R. hybrida (a shade-tolerant species) and R. simsii (a light-loving and shade-tolerant species) following exposure to sunlight for five days after growing in the shade for one year.Important findings Natural sunlight decreased the efficiency of photochemical reaction by reducing the fraction of incident light in photochemical energy utilization and decreased thermal dissipation through regulating energy dissipation in photosystem II (PSII) in the leaves of R. hybrida. As a result, natural sunlight induced the accumulation of excess excitation energy in PSII, and caused photo-inhibition and even photodamage in the leaves of R. hybrida, which was suddenly transferred from long-term shading to sun exposures. The acclimation capacity to changes of growth light regimes was stronger in R. simsii than in R. hybrida, due to a higher capability for photochemical reaction, thermal dissipation and cyclic electron flows around photosystem I in the leaves of R. simsii. Rhododendron simsii could utilize a high fraction of incident light in photochemistry and regulate energy dissipation in PSII to protect the photosynthetic apparatus under both shading and natural sunlight condition. Therefore, high light intensity under natural sunlight did not cause photo-inhibition in R. simsii.

Key words: Rhododendron, natural sunlight, photoinhibition, photoprotection, shading