Skip to main content

Variation in violaxanthin and lutein cycle components in two provenances of Acer grandidentatum L. exposed to contrasting light


The ability of ornamental plants to acclimate to contrasting light environments via photoprotection mechanisms such as the violaxanthin (V) and lutein (Lx) cycles determines their success in managed landscapes. This study investigated whether provenance of origin influenced V and Lx cycle components in Acer grandidentatum L. (bigtooth maple) exposed to contrasting light environments. Seven-year-old bigtooth maple plants from two provenances, Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas (LMPTX) and Guadalupe Mountains, Texas (GMTX) were subjected to unshaded conditions and 48 % shade. Regardless of light treatment, β-carotene content of plants from the LMPTX provenance (1,181 μg g−1) was higher than those from GMTX (964 μg g−1). Lutein content declined from day 5 to 10, but returned to day 5 levels at the end of the experiment at day 15. In contrast, more α-carotene accumulated at day 10 than at day 5. Although the conversion state of the xanthophyll pigment pool was unchanged, zeaxanthin was higher in unshaded than shaded bigtooth maple plants. Chlorophyll a and b decreased from day 5 to 10 and then increased on day 15. Light treatment did not cause photosystem II efficiency and relative water content to differ between the provenances, suggesting that they effectively acclimated to contrasting light conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5






F v/F m :

Chlorophyll fluorescence



Lx :

Lutein epoxide




Violaxanthin de-epoxidase




Zeaxanthin epoxidase


  • Baroli I, Do AD, Yamane T, Niyogi KK (2003) Zeaxanthin accumulation in the absence of a functional xanthophyll cycle protects Chlamydomonas reinhardtii from photooxidative stress. Plant Cell 15:1–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bartosz G (1997) Oxidative stress in plants. Acta Physiol Plantarum 19:47–64

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Beisel KG, Jahnke S, Hofmann D, Köppchen S, Schurr U, Matsubara S (2010) Continuous turnover of carotenes and chlorophyll a in mature leaves of Arabidopsis revealed by 14CO2 pulse-chase labeling. Plant Physiol 152:2188–2199

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bettmann GT, Ratnayaka HH, Molin WT, Sterling TM (2006) Physiological and antioxidant responses of cotton and spurred anoda (Anoda cristata) under nitrogen deficiency. Weed Sci 54:641–650

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Boardman NK (1977) Comparative photosynthesis of sun and shade leaves. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 28:355–377

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bsoul E, St. Hilaire R, VanLeeuwen D (2006) Bigtooth maples exposed to asynchronous cyclic irrigation show provenance differences in drought adaptation mechanisms. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 131:459–468

    Google Scholar 

  • Bsoul E, St. Hilaire R, VanLeeuwen D (2007) Bigtooth maples from selected provenances effectively endure deficit irrigation. HortScience 42:1167–1173

    Google Scholar 

  • Chaves MM (1991) Effects of water deficits on carbon assimilation. J Exp Bot 42:1–16

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Chen L, Cheng L (2003) Both xanthophyll cycle-dependent thermal dissipation and antioxidant system are up-regulated in grape (Vitis labrusca L. cv. Concord) leaves in response to N limitation. J Exp Bot 54:2165–2175

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Cheng L (2003) Xanthophyll pool size and composition in relation to the nitrogen content of apple leaves. J Exp Bot 54:2165–2175

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Close DC, Beadle CL (2003) The ecophysiology of foliar anthocyanin. Bot Rev 69:149–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Demmig-Adams B, Adams WW III (1992) Photoprotection and other responses of plants to high light stress. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Mol Biol 43:599–626

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Esteban R, Jiménez ET, Jiménez MS, Morales D, Hormaetxe K, Becerril JM, García-Plazaola JI (2007) Dynamics of violaxanthin and lutein epoxide xanthophyll cycles in Lauraceae tree species under field conditions. Tree Physiol 27:1407–1414

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Feser CF, St. Hilaire R, VanLeeuwen D (2005) Development of in-ground container plants of Mexican elders exposed to drought. HortScience 40:446–450

    Google Scholar 

  • Förster B, Osmond CB, Pogson BJ (2009) De novo synthesis and degradation of lx and v cycle pigments during shade and sun acclimation in avocado leaves. Plant Physiol 149:1179–1195

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Förster B, Pogson BJ, Osmond CB (2011) Lutein from deepoxidation of lutein epoxide replaces zeaxanthin to sustain an enhanced capacity for nonphotochemical chlorophyll fluorescence quenching in avocado shade leaves in the dark. Plant Physiol 156:393–403

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • García-Plazaola JI, Hernández A, Olano JM, Becerril JM (2003) The operation of the lutein epoxide cycle correlates with energy dissipation. Funct Plant Biol 30:319–324

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilman EF, Watson DG (1993) Acer grandidentatum: bigtooth maple. USDA Fact Sheet ST-16

  • Gratani L, Pesoli P, Cresente MF (1998) Relationship between photosynthetic activity and chlorophyll content in an isolated Quercus ilex L. tree during the year. Photosynthetica 35:445–451

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Horton P, Ruban AV, Walters RG (1996) Regulation of light in green plants. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 47:655–684

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson MP, Davison PA, Ruban AV, Horton P (2008) The xanthophyll cycle pool size controls the kinetics of non-photochemical quenching in Arabidopsis thaliana. FEBS Lett 582:262–266

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kivimäenpää M, Sutinen S, Calatayud V, Sanz MJ (2010) Visible and microscopic needle alterations of mature Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) trees growing on an ozone gradient in eastern Spain. Tree Physiol 30:541–554

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Latowski D, Gryb J, Strzalka K (2004) The xanthophyll cycle: molecular mechanism and physiological significance. Acta Physiol Plant 26:197–212

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Li Z, Ahn TK, Avenson TJ, Ballottari M, Cruz JA, Kramer DM, Bassi R, Fleming GR, Keasling JD, Niyogi KK (2009) Lutein accumulation in the absence of zeaxanthin restores nonphotochemical quenching in the Arabidopsis thaliana npq1 mutant. Plant Cell 21:1798–1812

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Matsubara S, Krause GH, Aranda J, Virgo A, Beisel KG, Jahns P, Winter K (2009) Sun-shade patterns of leaf carotenoid composition in 86 species of neotropical forest plants. Funct Plant Biol 36:20–36

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Moran R (1982) Formulae for determination of chlorophyllous pigments extracted with N,N-dimethylformamide. Plant Physiol 69:1376–1381

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Niinemets Ü, Bilger W, Kull O, Tenhunen JD (1998) Acclimation to high irradiance in temperate deciduous trees in the field: changes in xanthophyll cycle pool size and in photosynthetic capacity along a canopy light gradient. Plant Cell Environ 21:1205–1218

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Niyogi KK, Grossman AR, Björkman O (1998) Arabidopsis mutants define a central role for the xanthophyll cycle in the regulation of photosynthetic energy conversion. Plant Cell 10:1121–1134

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ort DR (2001) When there is too much light. Plant Physiol 125:29–32

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Polívka T, Sundström V (2004) Ultrafast dynamics of carotenoid excited states-from solution to natural and artificial systems. Chem Rev 104:2021–2071

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Verhoeven AS, Adams WM III, Demmig-Adams B, Croce R, Bassi R (1999) Xanthophyll cycle pigment localization and dynamics during exposure to low temperatures and light stress in Vinca major. Plant Physiol 120:727–773

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rolston St. Hilaire.

Additional information

Communicated by K. Trebacz.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bowen-O’Connor, C.A., VanLeeuwen, D.M., Bettmann, G. et al. Variation in violaxanthin and lutein cycle components in two provenances of Acer grandidentatum L. exposed to contrasting light. Acta Physiol Plant 35, 541–548 (2013).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • α-Carotene
  • β-Carotene
  • Bigtooth maples
  • Chlorophyll content
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Relative water content