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Tolerance of Borya nitida, a poikilohydrous angiosperm, to heat, cold and high-light stress in the hydrated state


Borya nitida Labill., a plant able to colonize rock outcrops and shallow sands in areas of high incident solar radiation in Western Australia, was examined for its tolerance to extremes of temperature, and to intense visible radiation. Stress injury to the leaves from heat, chilling or photoinhibitory light was followed by the decrease in in-vivo variable chlorophyll fluorescence. Heat injury was also ascertained by an increase in the “constant” fluorescence. Borya nitida leaves were extremely heat tolerant when heated at 1° C min-1. In-vivo variable chlorophyll fluorescence was detectable up to 55° C, several degrees higher than either maize or barley which are, respectively, adapted to warm and cool climates. An increase in “constant” fluorescence occurred above 50° C in B. nitida. This compares with values in the literature of 48–49° C for three desert plants from Death Valley, California, and 44–48° C for ten species of tropical plants. Unlike the Death-Valley plants, the high degree of heat tolerance found in B. nitida did not require prior acclimation by growth at high temperatures. Borya nitida was also tolerant of a chilling temperature of 0° C. Plants grown at a low photon fluence rate (120 μmol m-2s-1) were irreversibly photoinhibited by light at 650 μmol m-2s-1. Plants grown in sunlight resisted photoinhibition; however, the capacity to withstand photoinhibition was no greater than that of plants from less extreme environments.

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Hetherington, S.E., Smillie, R.M. Tolerance of Borya nitida, a poikilohydrous angiosperm, to heat, cold and high-light stress in the hydrated state. Planta 155, 76–81 (1982).

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Key words

  • Borya
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence (and stress)
  • Desert plant
  • Photoinhibition
  • Temperature stress (cold, heat)