Photosynthesis of mistletoes in relation to their hosts at various sites in tropical Brazil
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Chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters showing the instantaneous performance and carbon-isotope ratios reflecting long-term behaviour of leaves were determined for a large number of mistletoe/host-pairs in the cerrado belt of Brazil. Study sites were a very exposed rupestrian field, a semi-exposed savanna and a highly shaded gallery forest. The major question asked was if photosynthetic capacity of mistletoe leaves differed from that of the leaves of their respective hosts. It is shown that except for the very exposed rupestrian field site, photosynthetic capacity appeared to be similar in mistletoes and host leaves. The superior behaviour of host leaves in the rupestrian field was due to particularly expressed sun-plant characteristics of the host. However, mistletoes always had higher average stomatal conductances, lower leaf temperatures at similar or even higher irradiance and higher intercellular CO2-partial pressures than hosts. Photosynthetic performance of mistletoe leaves was independent of whether a given mistletoe species parasitized aluminium-accumulating or non-accumulating host species in the cerrados with their aluminium-rich soils.
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