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Molecules 2014, 19(11), 17810-17828;

Support for a Photoprotective Function of Winter Leaf Reddening in Nitrogen-Deficient Individuals of Lonicera japonica

Department of Biology, High Point University, University Station 3591, High Point, NC 27262, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2014 / Revised: 28 October 2014 / Accepted: 29 October 2014 / Published: 3 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthocyanins)
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Plants growing in high-light environments during winter often exhibit leaf reddening due to synthesis of anthocyanin pigments, which are thought to alleviate photooxidative stress associated with low-temperature photoinhibition through light attenuation and/or antioxidant activity. Seasonal high-light stress can be further exacerbated by a limited photosynthetic capacity, such as nitrogen-deficiency. In the present study, we test the following hypotheses using three populations of the semi-evergreen vine Lonicera japonica: (1) nitrogen deficiency corresponds with reduced photosynthetic capacity; (2) individuals with reduced photosynthetic capacity synthesize anthocyanin pigments in leaves during winter; and (3) anthocyanin pigments help alleviate high-light stress by attenuating green light. All populations featured co-occurring winter-green and winter-red leafed individuals on fully-exposed (high-light), south-facing slopes in the Piedmont of North Carolina, USA. Consistent with our hypotheses, red leaves consistently exhibited significantly lower foliar nitrogen than green leaves, as well as lower total chlorophyll, quantum yield efficiency, carboxylation efficiency, and photosynthesis at saturating irradiance (Asat). Light-response curves measured using ambient sunlight versus red-blue LED (i.e., lacking green wavelengths) demonstrated significantly reduced quantum yield efficiency and a higher light compensation point under sunlight relative to red-blue LED in red leaves, but not in green leaves, consistent with a (green) light-attenuating function of anthocyanin pigments. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that intraspecific anthocyanin synthesis corresponds with nitrogen deficiency and reduced photosynthetic capacity within populations, and support a light-attenuating function of anthocyanin pigments. View Full-Text
Keywords: anthocyanin; evergreen; Lonicera japonica; nitrogen; photosynthesis; winter anthocyanin; evergreen; Lonicera japonica; nitrogen; photosynthesis; winter

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Carpenter, K.L.; Keidel, T.S.; Pihl, M.C.; Hughes, N.M. Support for a Photoprotective Function of Winter Leaf Reddening in Nitrogen-Deficient Individuals of Lonicera japonica. Molecules 2014, 19, 17810-17828.

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