Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 128, Issue 2, pp 295–306 | Cite as

Acclimations to light quality on plant and leaf level affect the vulnerability of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) to water deficit

  • Anna M. Hoffmann
  • Georg Noga
  • Mauricio Hunsche
Regular Paper


We investigated the influence of light quality on the vulnerability of pepper plants to water deficit. For this purpose plants were cultivated either under compact fluorescence lamps (CFL) or light-emitting diodes (LED) providing similar photon fluence rates (95 µmol m−2 s−1) but distinct light quality. CFL emit a wide-band spectrum with dominant peaks in the green and red spectral region, whereas LEDs offer narrow band spectra with dominant peaks at blue (445 nm) and red (665 nm) regions. After one-week acclimation to light conditions plants were exposed to water deficit by withholding irrigation; this period was followed by a one-week regeneration period and a second water deficit cycle. In general, plants grown under CFL suffered more from water deficit than plants grown under LED modules, as indicated by the impairment of the photosynthetic efficiency of PSII, resulting in less biomass accumulation compared to respective control plants. As affected by water shortage, plants grown under CFL had a stronger decrease in the electron transport rate (ETR) and more pronounced increase in heat dissipation (NPQ). The higher amount of blue light suppressed plant growth and biomass formation, and consequently reduced the water demand of plants grown under LEDs. Moreover, pepper plants exposed to high blue light underwent adjustments at chloroplast level (e.g., higher Chl a/Chl b ratio), increasing the photosynthetic performance under the LED spectrum. Differently than expected, stomatal conductance was comparable for water-deficit and control plants in both light conditions during the stress and recovery phases, indicating only minor adjustments at the stomatal level. Our results highlight the potential of the target-use of light quality to induce structural and functional acclimations improving plant performance under stress situations.


Chlorophyll fluorescence Drought stress Light acclimation Light-emitting diodes Blue light 







Days after sowing




Compact fluorescence lamps




Dry mass


Electron transport rate


Fluorescence yield


Maximum chlorophyll fluorescence of a dark adapted leaf


Maximum chlorophyll fluorescence in the light adapted state


Ground fluorescence of a dark adapted leaf


Variable chlorophyll a fluorescence level from a dark adapted leaf (Fv = Fm − F0)


Fresh mass


Stomatal conductance


Light-emitting diode


Non-photochemical quenching


Photosynthetic active radiation


Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Reactive oxygen species


Water deficit





The authors thank Mr. Toshihiko Oishi, Ushio Europe B. V. (The Netherlands), and the group of technical engineers from Ushio Lighting Inc. (Japan) for developing and making the LED panels available for this study. We are grateful to Prof. Dr. Uwe Rascher, Institute of Bio- and Geoscience (IBG-2), Jülich Research Center, for loaning the spectroradiometer. Many thanks to Libeth Schwager, INRES Horticultural Science, for her support in the laboratory and to Elif Köllhofer for her assistance during the experimental phase. Finally, we acknowledge the Theodor-Brinkmann-Graduate School (Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bonn) for providing a scholarship to the first author. We also appreciate the critical-constructive comments of the anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

10265_2014_698_MOESM1_ESM.docx (37 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna M. Hoffmann
    • 1
  • Georg Noga
    • 1
  • Mauricio Hunsche
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation – Horticultural ScienceUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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