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Photosynthetic apparatus in chilling-sensitive plants

II. Changes in free fatty acid composition and photoperoxidation in chloroplasts following cold storage and illumination of leaves in relation to Hill reaction activity

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The composition of free fatty acids (FFA) in relation to Hill reaction activity and photoperoxidation of lipids was studied in chloroplasts isolated from fresh, cold and dark-stored as well as illuminated leaves of Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., Phaseolus vulgaris L. and Cucumis sativus L. Following the cold and dark-storage of leaves the loss of Hill reaction activity is accompanied by approximately a 5-fold increase in the amount of FFA and by an increase in the percentage of unsaturated FFA, particularly that of linolenic acid. Illumination of the cold- and dark-stored leaves restores both Hill reaction activity and the content and composition of chloroplast FFA. Following the second and third cycles of cold storage and illumination of leaves the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids in chloroplasts increases while that of saturated ones decreases despite of the significant restoration of Hill reaction activity. Since the illumination of cold-stored leaves results in peroxidation of inhibitory fatty acids it seems likely that this phenomenon could, at least partially, be responsible for the restoration of Hill reaction activity. Inhibition of Hill reaction activity by exogenous linolenic acid in chloroplasts of fresh, cold-stored as well as cold-stored and illuminated leaves could be reversed following the incubation of chloroplast suspension with BSA, however only to a value measured in the absence of unsaturated fatty acid. All these results indicate that the inhibition of Hill reaction activity due to the cold and dark storage of leaves is caused by both inhibitory FFA released from chloroplast lipids as well as by damage to the thylakoid structure affecting the electron transport within photosystem II.

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bovine serum albumin




digalactosyl diglyceride


2-(4(2-hydroxyethyl)-piperazinyl) ethanesulfonic acid


free fatty acids






thiobarbituric acid




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Kaniuga, Z., Michalski, W. Photosynthetic apparatus in chilling-sensitive plants. Planta 140, 129–136 (1978).

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Key words

  • Chilling
  • Chloroplasts
  • Cold storage
  • Cucumis
  • Lycopersicon
  • Phaseolus
  • Photosynthesis
  • Temperature (chilling)