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Light quality modifies the expression of photosynthetic genes in maize seedlings

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Although maize (Zea mays L.) plants utilize light efficiently, the expression of high light-efficient genes and stomatal factors is regulated by light conditions and affects photosynthesis of plants. In this study, we investigated the effects of different light qualities on the expression of the photosynthetic genes, such as pep1, pdk1, ZmSTOMAGEN, and psad1, and on stomatal function in maize seedlings. For both maize genotypes, Zhengdan 958 and Xianyu 335, light with wavelengths shorter than 490 nm enhanced the expression of pdk1 and ZmSTOMAGEN, whereas the expression of pdk1 positively correlated with ZmSTOMAGEN. Light with wavelengths longer than 630 nm or shorter than 490 nm (band pass filter) increased the expression of pep1 and psad1. Although the expression of four genes in Zhengdan 958 was significantly higher than that of Xianyu 335, changes in the expression of ZmSTOMAGEN, pdk1, or pep1 exerted no significant influence on stomatal function and photosynthetic rate. Our results suggest that light with wavelengths shorter than 490 nm promoted the expression of stomatal proteins and pdk1, facilitated the absorption of inorganic elements, and contributed to stomatal function in photosynthesis. Meanwhile, light with wavelengths longer than 630 nm inhibited the expression of pep1 and pdk1. Light with wavelengths longer than 630 nm or shorter than 490 nm promoted the expression of pep1, pdk1, and psad1.

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band pass




transparent glass

E :





glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase

g s :

stomatal conductance


long-band pass


phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


phytochrome B

P N :

net photosynthetic rate


pyruvate, orthophosphate dikinase


short-band pass


vapor pressure deficit


water-use efficiency


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Author information

Correspondence to Y. Xu.

Additional information

Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the Major Scientific Project of Fujian Province, China (Grant No. 2014NZ0002-2) and Young Teacher Educational Scientific Project of Fujian Province, China (No. JAT160164), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.31000690), and the Natural Science Foundation of Jilin Province, China (No. 20130101108JC).

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Liu, T.D., Zhang, X.W., Xu, Y. et al. Light quality modifies the expression of photosynthetic genes in maize seedlings. Photosynthetica 55, 360–367 (2017).

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Additional key words

  • gas exchange
  • pdk1
  • pep1
  • phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase
  • psad1
  • stomata