Quantification of leaf-scale light energy allocation and photoprotection processes in a Mediterranean pine forest under extensive seasonal drought

Kadmiel Maseyk, Tongbao Lin, Amnon Cochavi, Amnon Schwartz, Dan Yakir, David Tissue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Photoprotection strategies in a Pinus halepensis Mill. forest at the dry timberline that shows sustained photosynthetic activity during 6-7 month summer drought were characterized and quantified under field conditions. Measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence, leaf-level gas exchange and pigment concentrations were made in both control and summer-irrigated plots, providing the opportunity to separate the effects of atmospheric from soil water stress on the photoprotection responses. The proportion of light energy incident on the leaf surface ultimately being used for carbon assimilation was 18% under stress-free conditions (irrigated, winter), declining to 4% under maximal stress (control, summer). Allocation of absorbed light energy to photochemistry decreased from 25 to 15% (control) and from 50% to 30% (irrigated) between winter and summer, highlighting the important role of pigment-mediated energy dissipation processes. Photorespiration or other non-assimilatory electron flow accounted for 15-20% and ~10% of incident light energy during periods of high and low carbon fixation, respectively, representing a proportional increase in photochemical energy going to photorespiration in summer but a decrease in the absolute amount of photorespiratory CO loss. Resilience of the leaf photochemical apparatus was expressed in the complete recovery of photosystem II (PSII) efficiency (φPSII) and relaxation of the xanthophyll de-epoxidation state on the diurnal cycle throughout the year, and no seasonal decrease in pre-dawn maximal PSII efficiency (Fv/Fm). The response of CO assimilation and photoprotection strategies to stomatal conductance and leaf water potential appeared independent of whether stress was due to atmospheric or soil water deficits across seasons and treatments. The range of protection characteristics identified provides insights into the relatively high carbon economy under these dry conditions, conditions that are predicted for extended areas in the Mediterranean and other regions due to global climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1767-1782
Number of pages16
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 18 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Aleppo pine
  • Mediterranean ecosystem
  • carotenoids
  • drought resilience
  • photoinhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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