, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 489–504 | Cite as

Photon yield of O2 evolution and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics at 77 K among vascular plants of diverse origins

  • Olle Björkman
  • Barbara Demmig


Photon yields of oxygen evolution at saturating CO2 were determined for 44 species of vascular plants, representing widely diverse taxa, habitats, life forms and growth conditions. The photonyield values on the basis of absorbed light (φa) were remarkably constant among plants possessing the same pathway of photosynthetic CO2 fixation, provided the plants had not been subjected to environmental stress. The mean φa value ±SE for 37 C3 species was 0.106±0.001 O2·photon-1. The five C4 species exhibited lower photon yields and greater variation than the C3 species (φa=0.0692±0.004). The φa values for the two Crassulaceanacid-metabolism species were similar to those of C3 species. Leaf chlorophyll content had little influence on φa over the range found in normal, healthy leaves. Chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics at 77 K were determined for the same leaves as used for the photon-yield measurements. Considerable variation in fluorescence emission both at 692 nm and at 734 nm, was found 1) among the different species; 2) between the upper and lower surfaces of the same leaves; and 3) between sun and shade leaves of the same species. By contrast, the ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence emission at 692 nm (Fv/FM, 692) remained remarkably constant (The mean value for the C3 species was 0.832±0.004). High-light treatments of shade leaves resulted in a reduction in both φa and the Fv/FM, 692 ratio. The extent of the reductions increased with time of exposure to bright light. A linear relationship was obtained when φa was plotted against Fv/FM, 692. The results show that determinations of the photon yield of O2 evolution and the Fv/FM, 692 ratio can serve as excellent quantitative measures of photoinhibition of overall photosynthetic energy-conversion system and of photochemistry of photosystem II, respectively. This is especially valuable in field work where it is often impossible to obtain appropriate controls.

Key words

C3, C4 plants Chlorophyll fluorescence (77 K) Crassulacean acid metabolism plants Photoinhibition of photosynthesis Photon yield Photosynthesis (photon yield) Quantum yield 

Abbreviations and symbols


Crassulacean acid metabolism


photon flux density (photon fluence rate)


photosystem I, II

Fo, FM, Fv

instantaneous, maximum, variable fluorescence emission




photon yield (absorbed light)


photon yield (incident light)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olle Björkman
    • 1
  • Barbara Demmig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA

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