Changes in Chlorophyll Fluorescence Related to Photoinhibition of Photosynthesis and Cold Acclimation of Green Plants

  • Susanne Somersalo
  • G. Heinrich Krause


Fluorescence induction at 20ºC and 77K was applied in this study to characterize the photoinhibition of spinach leaves (Spinacia oleracea L.) induced in moderate light at chilling temperature. When plants acclimated to +18ºC and 260–300 μmol photons m-2 s-1 were exposed to 550 μmol m-2 s-1 at +4ºC, they developed a strong photoinhibition within a few hours. This was manifested by a decline in variable fluorescence (FV) of both photosystems (PS) and in quantum yield of O2 evolution. The changes in fluorescence characteristics were more pronounced in the signal recorded at 20°C that at 77K. Moreover, the ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence (FV/FM) measured at 20°C was more closely related to quantum yield than FV/FM at 77K. The FV/FM ratio recorded at 20°C is thus regarded as the more sensitive indicator of photoinhibition. The effects related to photoinhibition of unhardened spinach leaves, including a pronounced increase of initial fluorescence (Fo), were fully reversible at +18°C in dim light. The reversible photoinhibition is viewed as a protective mechanism serving for thermal dissipation of excess light energy. Cold acclimation of the plants increased their resistance to photoinhibition. The mechanism of photoinhibition seemed to be altered in cold acclimated leaves, as indicated by constant Fo. Cold acclimation apparently enforces other protective mechanisms, and photoinhibition then occurs only in higher light.

Key words

cold acclimation fluorescence of chlorophyll photoinhibition photosynthesis quantum yield Spinacia oleracea L. 



initial fluorescence


maximum fluorescence


variable fluorescence (FM–FO)


photon flux density




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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Somersalo
    • 1
  • G. Heinrich Krause
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biochemistry of PlantsUniversity of DüsseldorfDüsseldorf 1Germany

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