Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 255–266 | Cite as

Impact of air drought on photosynthesis efficiency of the Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata L. Borkh.) in the forest-steppe zone of Transbaikalia, Russia

  • Alexandr Rudikovskii
  • Elena RudikovskayaEmail author
  • Lyubov Dudareva


The adaption of photosynthesis, being a key metabolic process, plays an important role in plant resistance to air drought. In this study, the Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata L. Borkh.) in the forest-steppe zone of Transbaikalia region, Russia, was subjected to air drought stress and its photosynthesis characteristics were analyzed. The results show that air drought and sufficient soil moisture supply lead to the decrease in the total chlorophyll (Chl) content, while the ratio of Chls to carotenoids is constant in the Siberian crabapple tree. The function of photosystem II (PS-II) in the crabapple trees is characterized by a decrease in the fraction of absorbed light energy spent on the photochemical work and an increase in the proportion of non-photosynthetic thermal quenching. These changes indicate the photosynthetic down-regulation that acts as a universal photoprotective mechanism. During the midday hours, the combination of high air temperature and low air humidity leads to the decrease in the maximum photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) and the efficiency of photosynthesis (PABS). The parameters of leaf gas exchange show the significant differences in these values between the control and experimental variants. During the morning hours, the Siberian crabapple, growing in the Irkutsk City, assimilates carbon dioxide more intensively. Due to the higher air humidity, the stomata are kept open and the necessary amount of carbon dioxide entries the sites of carboxylation. The low air humidity combined with wind in the experimental variants leads to the unreasonably high water loss in the crabapple leaves by more than 27% as compared to the control variant (Irkutsk City). However, water use efficiency in the morning hours increases during plant photosynthetic processes, i.e., 42% higher than that of control. This, apparently, is a reflection of the adaptation processes of the Siberian crabapple to the air drought and parching wind.


air drought chlorophyll fluorescence leaf gas exchange pigments water use efficiency 



absorbed energy flux




electron transport flux


electron transport rate


minimum fluorescence yield in dark-adapted state


maximum fluorescence yield in dark-adapted state


maximum fluorescence yield in light-adapted state


minimum fluorescence yield in light-adapted state


quantum yield of photosystem II


photosynthetically active radiation


photosystem II


reaction center


trapping flux


vapour pressure deficit


water use efficiency


effective quantum yield of photosystem II


quantum yield of non-photochemical quenching.


probability that a photon trapped by the PS-II reaction center enters the electron transport chain beyond QA (the primary electron acceptor quinone in PS-II) (at t=0)


the maximum quantum yield of primary photochemistry at t=0


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The research was funded by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Integration Project No. 105). The work was performed at the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Irkutsk City). We thank Dr. Larisa GARKAVA-GUSTAVSSON for comments on the manuscript and Dr. Alexandra YAZEVA for her work on the translation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandr Rudikovskii
    • 1
  • Elena Rudikovskaya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lyubov Dudareva
    • 1
  1. 1.Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry of Siberian BranchRussian Academy of SciencesIrkutskRussia

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