Dynamic acclimation of photosynthesis increases plant fitness in changing environments

Plant Physiol. 2010 Jan;152(1):366-73. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.149351. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Plants growing in different environments develop with different photosynthetic capacities--developmental acclimation of photosynthesis. It is also possible for fully developed leaves to change their photosynthetic capacity--dynamic acclimation. The importance of acclimation has not previously been demonstrated. Here, we show that developmental and dynamic acclimation are distinct processes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that dynamic acclimation plays an important role in increasing the fitness of plants in natural environments. Plants of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) were grown at low light and then transferred to high light for up to 9 d. This resulted in an increase in photosynthetic capacity of approximately 40%. A microarray analysis showed that transfer to high light resulted in a substantial but transient increase in expression of a gene, At1g61800, encoding a glucose-6-phosphate/phosphate translocator GPT2. Plants where this gene was disrupted were unable to undergo dynamic acclimation. They were, however, still able to acclimate developmentally. When grown under controlled conditions, fitness, measured as seed output and germination, was identical, regardless of GPT2 expression. Under naturally variable conditions, however, fitness was substantially reduced in plants lacking the ability to acclimate. Seed production was halved in gpt2- plants, relative to wild type, and germination of the seed produced substantially less. Dynamic acclimation of photosynthesis is thus shown to play a crucial and previously unrecognized role in determining the fitness of plants growing in changing environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis / classification
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Light
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Photosynthesis / radiation effects
  • Up-Regulation


  • Arabidopsis Proteins