, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 776–785 | Cite as

Bi-directional acclimation of Cycas micronesica leaves to abrupt changes in incident light in understory and open habitats

  • T. E. MarlerEmail author


Leaf gas-exchange responses to shadefleck–sunfleck and sun–cloud transitions were determined for in situ Cycas micronesica K.D. Hill plants on the island of Guam to add cycads to the published gymnosperm data. Sequential sunfleck–shadefleck transitions indicated understory leaves primed rapidly but open field leaves primed slowly. Time needed to reach 90% induction of net CO2 assimilation (PN) was 2.9 min for understory leaves and 13.9 min for open field leaves. Leaf responses to sun–cloud transitions exhibited minimal adjustment of stomatal conductance, so PN rapidly returned to precloud values following cloud–sun transitions. Results indicate bi-directional leaf acclimation behavior enables mature C. micronesica trees to thrive in deep understory conditions in some habitats and as emergent canopy trees in other habitats. These data are the first nonconifer gymnosperm data; the speed of gas-exchange responses to rapid light transitions was similar to some of the most rapid angiosperm species described in the literature.

Additional key words

cycad dynamic leaf photosynthesis fluctuating light phenotypic plasticity photosynthetic induction 





stomatal conductance to water


photosynthetic induction state following 1 min of induction


net CO2 assimilation

PN initial

PN during initial diffuse light of shadeflecks

PN 60s

PN at 1 min induction


maximum PN


dark respiration


time to reach 50% photosynthetic induction


time to reach 90% photosynthetic induction


instantaneous water-use efficiency (PN/E)


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, College of Natural and Applied SciencesUniversity of GuamMangilao, GuamUSA

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