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Physiological and biochemical responses of Theobroma cacao L. genotypes to flooding

Bertolde, F. Z., Almeida, A.-A. F., Pirovani, C. P., Gomes, F. P., Ahnert, D., Baligar, V. C., Valle, R. R.
Photosynthetica 2012 v.50 no.3 pp. 447
Theobroma cacao, catechol oxidase, chemical composition, chlorophyll, chlorosis, clones, death, fluorescence, gas exchange, genotype, greenhouses, irrigation, leaves, lowlands, oxidative stress, oxygen, photosynthetically active radiation, photosystem II, plant organs, rain, rhizosphere, starch, stomatal conductance, sugars
Flooding is common in lowlands and areas with high rainfall or excessive irrigation. A major effect of flooding is the deprivation of O2 in the root zone, which affects several biochemical and morphophysiological plant processes. The objective of this study was to elucidate biochemical and physiological characteristics associated with tolerance to O2 deficiency in two clonal cacao genotypes. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse with two contrasting clones differing in flood tolerance: TSA-792 (tolerant) and TSH-774 (susceptible). Leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence, chemical composition and oxidative stress were assessed during 40 d for control and flooded plants. Flooding induced a decrease in net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration of both genotypes. In flood conditions, the flood-susceptible clone showed changes in chlorophyll fluorescence, reductions in chlorophyll content and increased activity of peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase. Flooding also caused changes in macro- and micronutrients, total soluble sugars and starch concentrations in different plant organs of both genotypes. Response curves for the relationship between photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and net photosynthetic rate (PN) for flooded plants were similar for both genotypes. In flood conditions, the flood-susceptible clone exhibited (1) nonstomatal limitations to photosynthesis since decreased in maximum potential quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm) values indicated possible damage to the PSII light-harvesting complex; (2) oxidative stress; (3) increased leaf chlorosis; and (4) a reduction in root carbohydrate levels. These stresses resulted in death of several plants after 30 d of flooding.