Seasonal changes in temperature and light drive acclimation of photosynthetic physiology and macromolecular content in Lobaria pulmonaria

T D MacKenzie, T M MacDonald, L A Dubois, D A Campbell
Planta 2001, 214 (1): 57-66
Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm. is an epiphytic lichen common to temperate deciduous forests where it copes with large changes in temperature and light levels through repeated annual cycles. Samples of L. pulmonaria were taken from a deciduous forest in southeastern Canada at 35-day intervals from February 1999 to February 2000 and also from a rare population in an evergreen forest in March and August 1999. At field-ambient temperatures and light levels, the realised photosystem II (PSII) electron transport was low both in the summer and winter, with transient peaks in the spring and autumn. In contrast, the seasonal pattern of potential electron transport measured at a fixed 20 degrees C peaked in winter, showing the importance of temperature in driving photosynthesis to low levels in the winter despite an acclimation of electron-transport potential to exploit the high ambient light. Realised gross CO2 uptake was correlated with PSII electron transport at mechanistically plausible rates at all sampling sites in the summer but not in the winter, indicating electron diversion away from CO2 fixation in the winter. Chlorophyll content was highest in the dark summer months. The amount of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO) large subunit (LSU) was highest in spring. Changes in the level of this hyperabundant protein and in the activity of PSII maintained a relatively constant rate of maximum CO2 uptake per RuBisCO LSU from April through November, despite great changes in the seasonal light and temperature. L. pulmonaria acclimates between light and temperature stress in the winter months to light-limitation in the dark summer months. Transition intervals in the spring and autumn, with warm, bright and wet conditions, are likely the most amenable times for growth.

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