Temperature response of leaf photosynthetic capacity in seedlings from seven temperate tree species

Tree Physiol. 2001 Mar;21(4):223-32. doi: 10.1093/treephys/21.4.223.


Seedlings of seven temperate tree species (Acer pseudoplatanus L., Betula pendula Roth, Fagus sylvatica L., Fraxinus excelsior L., Juglans regia L., Quercus petraea Matt. Liebl. and Quercus robur L.) were grown in a nursery under neutral filters transmitting 45% of incident global irradiance. During the second or third year of growth, leaf photosynthetic capacity (i.e., maximal carboxylation rate, Vcmax, maximal photosynthetic electron transport rate, Jmax, and dark respiration, Rd) was estimated for five leaves from each species at five or six leaf temperatures (10, 18, 25, 32, 36 and 40 degrees C). Values of Vcmax and Jmax were obtained by fitting the equations of the Farquhar model on response curves of net CO2 assimilation (A) to sub-stomatal CO2 mole fraction (ci), at high irradiance. Primary parameters describing the kinetic properties of Rubisco (specificity factor, affinity for CO2 and for O2, and their temperature responses) were taken from published data obtained with spinach and tobacco, and were used for all species. The temperature responses of Vcmax and Jmax, which were fitted to a thermodynamic model, differed. Mean values of Vcmax and Jmax at a reference temperature of 25 degrees C were 77.3 and 139 micromol m(-2) s(-1), respectively. The activation energy was higher for Vcmax than for Jmax (mean values of 73.1 versus 57.9 kJ mol(-1)) resulting in a decrease in Jmax/Vcmax ratio with increasing temperature. The mean optimal temperature was higher for Vcmax than for Jmax (38.9 versus 35.9 degrees C). In addition, differences in these temperature responses were observed among species. Temperature optima ranged between 35.9 and above 45 degrees C for Vcmax and between 31.7 and 43.3 degrees C for Jmax, but because of data scatter and the limited range of temperatures tested (10 to 40 degrees C), there were few statistically significant differences among species. The optimal temperature for Jmax was highest in Q. robur, Q. petraea and J. regia, and lowest in A. pseudoplatanus and F. excelsior. Measurements of chlorophyll a fluorescence revealed that the critical temperature at which basal fluorescence begins to increase was close to 47 degrees C, with no difference among species. These results should improve the parameterization of photosynthesis models, and be of particular interest when adapted to heterogeneous forests comprising mixtures of species with diverse ecological requirements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Plant Leaves / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Trees / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide