Russian Agricultural Sciences

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 426–433 | Cite as

Effects of Root-Zone Temperature on Growth, Chlorophyll Fluorescence Characteristics and Chlorophyll Content of Greenhouse Pepper Plants Grown under Cold Stress in Southern China

  • M. O. Odhiambo
  • X. C. WangEmail author
  • P. I. J. de Antonio
  • Y. Y. Shi
  • B. Zhao
Crop Production


In Southern China, plants are usually exposed to cold stress during winter in an unheated greenhouse, but due to the high energy consumption and costs, most of the greenhouses remain unheated. In an attempt to find a simple and affordable solution to this problem, this study was undertaken. In this research, Capsicum frutescens L. plants were studied to investigate the effect of different root zone temperatures on its growth and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics under cold stress. The plants were cultivated under cold stress conditions in a root zone temperature (RZT) control system where the roots were subjected to four different root-zone temperature treatments of 20°C-T20, 25°C-T25, 45°C-T45 and a control CK group. Growth characteristics studied included plant height, stem diameter, plant width, root length, biomass accumulation. Whilst fluorescence characteristics investigated were chlorophyll fluorescence ratio Fv/Fm, photochemical quenching (qL), efficiency of Photosystem II (Y[II]) and electron transport rate (ETR). Chlorophyll content in the leaves of the plants was also investigated. The findings demonstrated that plants in the CK group suffered a detrimental effect on the growth characteristics registering the lowest values in the measured variables. Conversely, the highest values were observed in T25 RZT treatment. In fluorescence characteristics, values of Fv/Fm were maintained at between 0.8 and 0.83 but also suffered a photo-inhibitory depression in CK and T45 RZT treatments to Fv/Fm values of <0.79. This depicted that root zone heating protected the PS II of these plants from photoinactivation induced by cold stress. Similar trends were seen in the qL, Y[II], ETR values with the T20 and T25 treatments registering the highest values. Chlorophyll content was significantly higher in the leaves of the plants in the T20 and T25 group. The lowest chlorophyll content was recorded in the CK group. Plants in all the treatments accumulated more biomass in the shoot than in the roots as depicted by a significantly lower shoot to root ratio values with the exception of those in the CK group. The findings of this study suggest that pepper plants can successfully be grown in an unheated greenhouse in the Yangtze River Delta area of Southern China during winter by heating the root zone of the plants to a RZT value of 25°C, thereby providing a simple, affordable and cost-effective technique.


Capsicum frutescens L. cold stress root zone temperature root zone heating growth characteristics chlorophyll fluorescence Yangtze River Delta area of Southern China 



chlorophyll fluorescence


electron transfer rate


non-photochemical fluorescence quenching PSII—photosystem II


coefficients of photochemical fluorescence quenching


root zone temperature


effective photochemical quantum yield of PS II


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Copyright information

© Allerton Press, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. O. Odhiambo
    • 1
  • X. C. Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • P. I. J. de Antonio
    • 1
  • Y. Y. Shi
    • 1
  • B. Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EngineeringNanjing Agricultural University, Pukou DistrictNanjingChina
  2. 2.Jiangsu Province Engineering Laboratory for Modern Intelligent Facilities in Agricultural Technology and Equipment, Pukou DistrictNanjingChina

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