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Morpho‐anatomical and physiological differences between sun and shade leaves in Abies alba Mill. (Pinaceae, Coniferales): a combined approach

Dörken, Veit Martin, Lepetit, Bernard
Plant, cell and environment 2018 v.41 no.7 pp. 1683-1697
Abies alba, Angiospermae, chlorophyll, conifers, dimorphism, electron transfer, leaves, lutein, parenchyma (plant tissue), photosynthesis, solar radiation, stomata, transpiration
Morphology, anatomy and physiology of sun and shade leaves of Abies alba were investigated and major differences were identified, such as sun leaves being larger, containing a hypodermis and palisade parenchyma as well as possessing more stomata, while shade leaves exhibit a distinct leaf dimorphism. The large size of sun leaves and their arrangement crowded on the upper side of a plagiotropic shoot leads to self‐shading which is explainable as protection from high solar radiation and to reduce the transpiration via the lamina. Sun leaves furthermore contain a higher xanthophyll cycle pigment amount and Non‐Photochemical Quenching (NPQ) capacity, a lower amount of chlorophyll b and a total lower chlorophyll amount per leaf, as well as an increased electron transport rate and an increased photosynthesis light saturation intensity. However, sun leaves switch on their NPQ capacity at rather low light intensities, as exemplified by several parameters newly measured for conifers. Our holistic approach extends previous findings about sun and shade leaves in conifers and demonstrates that both leaf types of A. alba show structural and physiological remarkable similarities to their respective counterparts in angiosperms, but also possess unique characteristics allowing them to cope efficiently with their environmental constraints.