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Photosynthetic light and carbon dioxide response of the invasive tree, Vochysia divergens Pohl, to experimental flooding and shading


Vochysia divergens Pohl is considered to be a flood-adapted, light-demanding pioneer species that has been invading grasslands of the Brazilian Pantanal. In these areas, a successful invasion requires an ability to tolerate physiologically wide fluctuations in surface hydrology and shading induced by a dense cover of grasses and other vegetation. We evaluated how flooding and shading affected the photosynthetic performance of V. divergens saplings by measuring light-saturated gas exchange (net photosynthetic rate, P N; stomatal conductance, g s), and intercellular CO2 (P N/C i) and photosynthetic photon flux density (P N/PPFD) response curves over a 61-d field experiment. Shading and flooding reduced significantly light-saturated P N and g s and affected multiple aspects of the leaf gas exchange response of V. divergens to variations in PPFD and CO2. Flooding influenced the physiology of this species more than shading. Given the success of V. divergens at invading and expanding in seasonally flooded areas of the Pantanal, the results were surprising and highlighted the physiological ability of this species to tolerate suboptimal conditions. However, the consistently higher light-saturated P N and g s under nonflooded conditions suggested that the invasive success of V. divergens might not be related to its physiological potential during flooding, but to situations, when flooding recedes during the dry season and soil water availability is adequate.

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C i :

intercellular CO2 concentration

C i/C a :

ratio between CO2 in the intercellular mesophyll spaces and atmospheric CO2




day of year


flooded with full sunlight


nonflooded with full sunlight

g s :

stomatal conductance

Jmax :

light-saturated rate of electron transport




light compensation point

P max :

photosynthetic rate at light saturation

P N :

net photosynthetic rate

P N/C i :

photosynthetic response curves to variations in intercellular CO2 concentration


photosynthetic response curves to variations in PPFD


photosynthetic photon flux density

P sat :

photosynthetic rate at CO2 saturation

R D :

dark respiration rate


ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase


flooded in shade


nonflooded in shade

T1 :

first day of experiment

T61 :

last day of experiment


triose-phosphate utilization

Vcmax :

maximum rate of Rubisco activity




apparent quantum yield


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. L. Vourlitis.

Additional information

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the Graduate Program in Environmental Physics, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso for equipment and laboratory support. Financial support was provided by National Institute for Science and Technology in Wetlands (INAU), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and Ministry of Science and Technology (CNPq/MCT), and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), which provided scholarships to Dalmolin, Dalmagro, and Antunes Jr., and the U.S. National Science Foundation-Office of International Science and Engineering grant to Vourlitis.

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Dalmolin, A.C., Dalmagro, H.J., Lobo, F. et al. Photosynthetic light and carbon dioxide response of the invasive tree, Vochysia divergens Pohl, to experimental flooding and shading. Photosynthetica 51, 379–386 (2013).

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Additional key words

  • Brazilian Pantanal
  • CO2 and light-response curves
  • ecophysiology
  • invasive plants
  • tropical wetlands