, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 413–420 | Cite as

Photosynthetic electron flow during leaf senescence: Evidence for a preferential maintenance of photosystem I activity and increased cyclic electron flow

Original Papers


Limitations in photosystem function and photosynthetic electron flow were investigated during leaf senescence in two field-grown plants, i.e., Euphorbia dendroides L. and Morus alba L., a summer- and winter-deciduous, shrub and tree, respectively. Analysis of fast chlorophyll (Chl) a fluorescence transients and post-illumination fluorescence yield increase were used to assess photosynthetic properties at various stages of senescence, the latter judged from the extent of Chl loss. In both plants, the yield of primary photochemistry of PSII and the content of PSI remained quite stable up to the last stages of senescence, when leaves were almost yellow. However, the potential for linear electron flow along PSII was limited much earlier, especially in E. dendroides, by an apparent inactivation of the oxygen-evolving complex and a lower efficiency of electron transfer to intermediate carriers. On the contrary, the corresponding efficiency of electron transfer from intermediate carriers to final acceptors of PSI was increased. In addition, cyclic electron flow around PSI was accelerated with the progress of senescence in E. dendroides, while a corresponding trend in M. alba was not statistically significant. However, there was no decrease in PSI activity even at the last stages of senescence. We argue that a switch to cyclic electron flow around PSI during leaf senescence may have the dual role of replenishing the ATP and maintaining a satisfactory nonphotochemical energy quenching, since both are limited by hindered linear electron transfer.

Additional key words

alternative routes electron flow chlorophyll fluorescence chloroplast photosynthesis senescence regulation 





minimal fluorescence yield

FJ or FI

fluorescence intensity at 2 ms or 30 ms, respectively


maximal fluorescence yield


maximal variable fluorescence


oxygen-evolving complex


reaction centers


reduction of end electron acceptors


relative variable fluorescence at 30 ms


relative variable fluorescence at 2 ms


relative variable fluorescence at 300 μs


the efficiency of electron transfer between intermediate carriers to the RE of PSI


maximal quantum yield of PSII primary photochemistry, taken as equal to Fv/Fm


the efficiency of trapped energy to move an electron further than QA


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Department of BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research CenterHungarian Academy of SciencesSzegedHungary

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