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Long-term drought results in a reversible decline in photosynthetic capacity in mango leaves, not just a decrease in stomatal conductance

Damour G., Vandame M., Urban L.. 2009. Tree Physiology, 29 (5) : p. 675-684.

DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpp011

The negative effects of drought on plant growth, development of natural plant communities and crop productivity are well established, but some of the responses remain poorly characterized, particularly the effect of long-term drought on photosynthetic capacity. We hypothesized that long-term drought results in a decline in leaf photosynthetic capacity, and not just a decrease in diffusive conductance. To test this hypothesis, we studied the effect of drought, slowly developed over 3.5 months, in leaves of eight potted mango (Mangifera indica L.) trees. We found that photosynthesis was not only limited by stomatal closure, but was also downregulated as a consequence of a strong decrease in photosynthetic capacity assessed by the measurements of maximal net photosynthesis (Amax) and the light-saturated rate of photosynthetic electron transport (Jmax). The rapid recovery of Amax and Jmax, after only 1 week of rewatering, the maintenance of a stable pool of leaf nitrogen throughout the trial, and the decrease in quantum efficiency of open centers of photosystem II, indicate that the photosynthetic machinery escaped photodamage in the drought-treated trees and was simply downregulated during drought. The hexose-to-sucrose ratio was higher in leaves from drought-treated trees than in control leaves, suggesting that photosynthetic capacity decreased as a consequence of sink limitation.

Mots-clés : mangifera indica; réunion; france

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