Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The carotenoid composition of sun leaves of nine species of annual crop plants (some with several varieties) was compared with sun and shade leaves of several other groups of plants, among those sun and shade leaves of several species of perennial shrubs and vines and deep-shade leaves of seven rainforest species. All sun leaves contained considerably greater amounts of the components of the xanthophyll cycle violaxanthin, antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin as well as of β-carotene than the shade leaves, as had previously been reported for a variety of other species by Thayer & Björkman (Photosynthesis Research, 1990, 23, 331–343). Therefore, high light specifically stimulated β,β-carotenoid synthesis. The sun leaves of these crop species did not contain α-carotene which was, however, present in large amounts in all shade leaves and in smaller amounts in sun leaves of three of the four species of perennial shrubs and vines. There was no difference in neoxanthin content on a chlorophyll basis between sun and shade leaves, and there was no consistent general difference in the lutein content between all sun and all shade leaves. The zeaxanthin (and antheraxanthin) content at peak irradiance and the xanthophyll cycle pool size were compared for sun leaves from the different groups of plants with different life forms and different metabolic activities. When growing in full sunlight the annual crop species and a perennial mesophyte had high rates of photosynthesis whereas the perennial shrubs and vines had relatively low photosynthesis rates. More zeaxanthin (and antheraxanthin) were accumulated at noon in full sunlight in those species with the lower photosynthesis rates. However, it was not such that those species also possessed the larger pools of violaxanthin + antheraxanthin + zeaxanthin. Instead, the xanthophyll cycle pools of sun leaves of the annual crop species and the perennial mesophyte were not smaller, and were even possibly larger, than those of sun leaves of the perennial shrubs and vines with low photosynthesis rates. This was so in spite of the fact that the crop species experienced much lesser degrees of excessive light at full sun than the shrubs and vines. Thus, many of the crop species converted only about 30–50% of their xanthophyll cycle pool to zeaxanthin at noon, whereas the shrubs and vines typically converted more than 80% of their pool into zeaxanthin. The crop species also had larger pools of β-carotene than the shrubs and vines but smaller pools of lutein than the majority of the latter species.
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