, Volume 161, Issue 6, pp 505–518

Paraheliotropic leaf movement in Siratro as a protective mechanism against drought-induced damage to primary photosynthetic reactions: damage by excessive light and heat

  • Mervyn M. Ludlow
  • Olle Björkman

DOI: 10.1007/BF00407082

Cite this article as:
Ludlow, M.M. & Björkman, O. Planta (1984) 161: 505. doi:10.1007/BF00407082


Damage to primary photosynthetic reactions by drought, excess light and heat in leaves of Macroptilium atropurpureum Dc. cv. Siratro was assessed by measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence emission kinetics at 77 K (-196°C). Paraheliotropic leaf movement protected waterstressed Siratro leaves from damage by excess light (photoinhibition), by heat, and by the interactive effects of excess light and high leaf temperatures. When the leaves were restrained to a horizontal position, photoinhibition occurred and the degree of photoinhibitory damage increased with the time of exposure to high levels of solar radiation. Severe inhibition was followed by leaf death, but leaves gradually recovered from moderate damage. This drought-induced photoinhibitory damage seemed more closely related to low leaf water potential than to low leaf conductance. Exposure to leaf temperatures above 42°C caused damage to the photosynthetic system even in the dark and leaves died at 48°C. Between 42 and 48°C the degree of heat damage increased with the time of exposure, but recovery from moderate heat damage occurred over several days. The threshold temperature for direct heat damage increased with the growth temperature regime, but was unaffected by water-stress history or by current leaf water status. No direct heat damage occurred below 42°C, but in water-stressed plants photoinhibition increased with increasing leaf temperature in the range 31–42°C and with increasing photon flux density up to full sunglight values. Thus, water stress evidently predisposes the photosynthetic system to photoinhibition and high leaf temperature exacerbates this photoinhibitory damage. It seems probable that, under the climatic conditions where Siratro occurs in nature, but in the absence of paraheliotropic leaf movement, photoinhibitory damage would occur more frequently during drought than would direct heat damage.

Key words

Chlorophyll fluorescenceHeat stressLeaf movementLight (excess)MacroptiliumPhotoinhibitionWater stress

Abbreviations and symbols


photon flux area density


photosyntem I, II


maximum, instantaneous, variable fluorescence emission


paraheliotropic leaf movement; all data of parameter of variation are mean ± standard error

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mervyn M. Ludlow
    • 1
  • Olle Björkman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Division of Tropical Crops and PasturesC.S.I.R.O.St. LuciaAustralia