, 49:346 | Cite as

Photosynthesis and photoinhibition in two differently coloured varieties of Oxalis triangularis — the effect of anthocyanin content

  • S. L. Nielsen
  • A. -M. Simonsen
Original Papers


The purpose of this study was to clarify effects of anthocyanins on photosynthesis and photoinhibition in green and red leaves of Oxalis triangularis. Gas analysis indicated that green plants had the highest apparent quantum yield for CO2 assimilation [0.051 vs. 0.031 μmol(CO2) μmol−1(photon)] and the highest maximum photosynthesis [10.07 vs. 7.24 μmol(CO2) m−2 s−1], while fluorescence measurements indicated that red plants had the highest PSII quantum yield [0.200 vs. 0.143 μmol(e) μmol−1(photon)] and ETRmax [66.27 vs. 44.34 μmol(e) m−2 s−1]. Red plants had high contents of anthocyanins [20.11 mg g−1(DM)], while green plants had low and undetectable levels of anthocyanin. Red plants also had statistically significantly (0.05>p>0.01) lower contents of xanthophyll cycle components [0.63 vs. 0.76 mg g−1(DM)] and higher activities of the reactive oxygen scavenging enzyme ascorbate peroxidase [41.2 vs. 10.0 nkat g−1(DM)]. Anthocyanins act as a sunscreen, protecting the chloroplasts from high light intensities. This shading effect causes a lower photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in red plants compared to green plants, but a higher quantum efficiency of photosystem II (PSII). Anthocyanins contribute to photoprotection, compensating for lower xanthophyll content in red plants, and red plants are less photoinhibited than green plants, as illustrated by the Fv/Fm ratio.

Additional key words

anthocyanin ascorbate peroxidase chlorophyll fluorescence photoinhibition; photosynthesis superoxide dismutase xanthophyll 



ascorbate peroxidase




electron transport rate


maximum quantum yield of PSII


high performance liquid chromatography


light compensation point of photosynthesis


light saturation point of photosynthesis


light-emitting diodes


nonphotochemical quenching


apparent quantum yield of CO2 assimilation


quantum yield of PSII


pulse-amplitude modulated


photosynthetically active radiation


photosystem II


reactive oxygen species


superoxide dismutase





This work was supported by No. 272-06-0564 grant from the Danish Natural Science Research Council. We thank Dr. Torben Lund and Jacob Krake for help in developing the HPLC method for analyzing anthocyanins.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial ChangeRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

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