, Volume 180, Issue 2, pp 166–174

The ratio of variable to maximum chlorophyll fluorescence from photosystem II, measured in leaves at ambient temperature and at 77K, as an indicator of the photon yield of photosynthesis

  • William W. AdamsIII
  • Barbara Demmig-Adams
  • Klaus Winter
  • Ulrich Schreiber


The response of a number of species to high light levels was examined to determine whether chlorophyll fluorescence from photosystem (PS) II measured at ambient temperature could be used quantitatively to estimate the photon yield of O2 evolution. In many species, the ratio of the yield of the variable (FV) and the maximum chlorophyll fluorescence (FM) determined from leaves at ambient temperature matched that from leaves frozen to 77K when reductions in FV/FM and the photon yield resulted from exposure of leaves to high light levels under favorable temperatures and water status. Under conditions which were less favorable for photosynthesis, FV/FM at ambient temperature often matched the photon yield more closely than FV/FM measured at 77K. Exposure of leaves to high light levels in combination with water stress or chilling stress resulted in much greater reductions in the photon yield than in FV/FM (at both ambient temperature and 77K) measured in darkness, which would be expected if the site of inhibition was beyond PSII. Following chilling stress, FV/FM determined during measurement of the photon yield in the light was depressed to a degree more similar to that of the depression of photon yield, presumably as a result of regulation of PSII in response to greatly reduced electron flow.

Key words

Chilling stress Chlorophyll fluorescence (ambient and 77K) Light stress Photoinhibition of photosynthesis Photosynthesis (photoinhibition) Water stress 

Abbreviations and Symbols


yield of instantaneous fluorescence


yield of maximum fluorescence


yield of variable fluorescence


photon flux density (400–700 nm)


photosystem I (II)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William W. AdamsIII
    • 1
  • Barbara Demmig-Adams
    • 1
  • Klaus Winter
    • 1
  • Ulrich Schreiber
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Botanik und Pharmazeutische Biologie der Universität WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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