, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 447–457 | Cite as

Physiological and biochemical responses of Theobroma cacao L. genotypes to flooding

  • F. Z. Bertolde
  • A. -A. F. Almeida
  • C. P. Pirovani
  • F. P. Gomes
  • D. Ahnert
  • V. C. Baligar
  • R. R. Valle


Flooding is common in lowlands and areas with high rainfall or excessive irrigation. A major effect of flooding is the deprivation of O2 in the root zone, which affects several biochemical and morphophysiological plant processes. The objective of this study was to elucidate biochemical and physiological characteristics associated with tolerance to O2 deficiency in two clonal cacao genotypes. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse with two contrasting clones differing in flood tolerance: TSA-792 (tolerant) and TSH-774 (susceptible). Leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence, chemical composition and oxidative stress were assessed during 40 d for control and flooded plants. Flooding induced a decrease in net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration of both genotypes. In flood conditions, the flood-susceptible clone showed changes in chlorophyll fluorescence, reductions in chlorophyll content and increased activity of peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase. Flooding also caused changes in macro- and micronutrients, total soluble sugars and starch concentrations in different plant organs of both genotypes. Response curves for the relationship between photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and net photosynthetic rate (P N) for flooded plants were similar for both genotypes. In flood conditions, the flood-susceptible clone exhibited (1) nonstomatal limitations to photosynthesis since decreased in maximum potential quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm) values indicated possible damage to the PSII light-harvesting complex; (2) oxidative stress; (3) increased leaf chlorosis; and (4) a reduction in root carbohydrate levels. These stresses resulted in death of several plants after 30 d of flooding.


Photosynthetic Active Radiation Chlorophyll Fluorescence Lowercase Letter Total Soluble Sugar Uppercase Letter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



intercellular CO2 concentration


ratio between CO2 in the intercellular mesophyll spaces and atmospheric CO2




dry matter


dimethyl sulfoxide


transpiration rate


minimum fluorescence of the dark-adapted state


maximum fluorescence of the dark-adapted state


variable fluorescence


maximum potential quantum yield of PSII


stomatal conductance to water vapor


photosynthetically active radiation




net photosynthetic rate


polyphenol oxidases




the dark respiration


reactive oxygen species


total soluble sugars


instantaneous water-use efficiency


intrinsic water-use efficiency


apparent quantum efficiency of photosynthesis


compensation irradiance


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Z. Bertolde
    • 1
  • A. -A. F. Almeida
    • 1
  • C. P. Pirovani
    • 1
  • F. P. Gomes
    • 1
  • D. Ahnert
    • 1
  • V. C. Baligar
    • 2
  • R. R. Valle
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Estadual de Santa CruzIlhéus, BABrasil
  2. 2.USDA-ARSBeltsvilleUSA
  3. 3.Centro de Pesquisas do CacauComissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira (CEPEC/CEPLAC)Ilhéus, BABrasil

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