Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 105, Issue 2, pp 123–134 | Cite as

Moderate heat stress of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves causes chloroplast swelling and plastoglobule formation

  • Ru Zhang
  • Robert R. Wise
  • Kimberly R. Struck
  • Thomas D. SharkeyEmail author
Regular Paper


Photosynthesis is inhibited by heat stress. This inhibition is rapidly reversible when heat stress is moderate but irreversible at higher temperature. Absorbance changes can be used to detect a variety of biophysical parameters in intact leaves. We found that moderate heat stress caused a large reduction of the apparent absorbance of green light in light-adapted, intact Arabidopsis thaliana leaves. Three mechanisms that can affect green light absorbance of leaves, namely, zeaxanthin accumulation (absorbance peak at 505 nm), the electrochromic shift (ECS) of carotenoid absorption spectra (peak at 518 nm), and light scattering (peak at 535 nm) were investigated. The change of green light absorbance caused by heat treatment was not caused by changes of zeaxanthin content nor by the ECS. The formation of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), chloroplast movements, and chloroplast swelling and shrinkage can all affect light scattering inside leaves. The formation of NPQ under high temperature was not well correlated with the heat-induced absorbance change, and light microscopy revealed no appreciable changes of chloroplast location because of heat treatment. Transmission electron microscopy results showed swollen chloroplasts and increased number of plastoglobules in heat-treated leaves, indicating that the structural changes of chloroplasts and thylakoids are significant results of moderate heat stress and may explain the reduced apparent absorbance of green light under moderately high temperature.


Photosynthesis Moderate heat stress Light scattering Plastoglobules Chloroplast swelling 



Dr. Maria Magallanes-Lundback and Dr. Dean DellaPenna are acknowledged for HPLC analysis of zeaxanthin concentration. We thank Dr. Donna Fernandez, Dr. Marisa Otegui, and Dr. Masamitsu Wada for suggestions on leaf fixation and light microscopy. Dr. Sarah Swanson and Dr. Benjamin Adamcyzk are thanked for advice about microscope imaging and microtome sectioning. We also appreciate the help of Kimberly Rybicki and Andrew Chamberlin on some related experiments. Dr. Winslow Briggs is thanked for stimulating discussion and suggestions. The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number 2004-35100-14860 and project number MICL03483.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 83 kb)
11120_2010_9572_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (277 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 276 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ru Zhang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Robert R. Wise
    • 2
  • Kimberly R. Struck
    • 1
  • Thomas D. Sharkey
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and MicrobiologyUniversity of Wisconsin-OshkoshOshkoshUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution for ScienceStanfordUSA

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