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Revista Brasileira de Fruticultura

Print version ISSN 0100-2945


MACHADO, Daniela Favero São Pedro; MACHADO, Eduardo Caruso; MACHADO, Ricardo Silverio  and  RIBEIRO, Rafael Vasconcelos. Effects of low night temperature and rootstocks on diurnal variation of leaf gas exchange rates and photochemical activity of 'Valência' sweet orange plants. Rev. Bras. Frutic. [online]. 2010, vol.32, n.2, pp.351-359.  Epub June 18, 2010. ISSN 0100-2945.

Decreases in photosynthesis during winter season are probably caused by low night temperature, even under non-limiting environmental conditions during the diurnal period. Citrus orchards are formed by grafted plants, being the 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock recommended in areas with occurrence of low temperatures. However, the physiological mechanisms related to larger growth and crop yield in those plants are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the effect of low night temperature in photosynthesis of sweet orange plants is dependent on the rootstock species, with 'Swingle' citrumelo (Citrus paradise x Poncirus trifoliata) inducing higher tolerance to overnight chilling when compared to 'Rangpur' lime (Citrus limonia) rootstock. Six-month old 'Valência' (Citrus sinensis) sweet orange plants grown in plastic bags (5 L) were exposed overnight (12 h) to temperatures of 20 and 8 ºC. The thermal treatment was carried out inside a growth chamber where only the upper plant shoots were exposed to temperature variation. Measurements of diurnal courses of leaf gas exchange and photochemical activity were taken under natural environmental conditions. Chilling night caused larger reduction on CO2 assimilation, stomatal conductance and transpiration in plants grafted on 'Rangpur' lime when compared to those onto 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock. After the chilling treatment, maximum (Fv/Fm) and operational (Fq'/Fm') efficiencies of photosystem II decreased in plants grafted on 'Rangpur' lime, but remained practically undisturbed in plants grafted on 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock. Therefore, the 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock increased the photosynthetic efficiency of 'Valência' sweet orange plants exposed to overnight chilling when compared to the 'Rangpur' lime. The reduction of CO2 assimilation in chilled plants was due to low stomatal conductance and low apparent carboxylation efficiency, i.e., it is a consequence of both diffusive and metabolic limitations. Although Fv/Fm and Fq'/Fm' in plants grafted on 'Rangpur' lime have been more affected by chilling in relation to plants on 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock, those effects were not related with decreases in CO2 assimilation. Chilling night also increased the alternative electron sinks, as shown by the increasing ratio between apparent electron transport rate and CO2 assimilation and reduced apparent carboxylation efficiency of plants grafted on 'Rangpur' lime with larger intensity than in plants onto 'Swingle' citrumelo rootstock. Those results confirm the hypothesis that low night temperature affects photosynthesis of 'Valência' sweet orange plants, being the chilling effects rootstock-dependent.

Keywords : Citrus limonia; Citrus paradisi x Poncirus trifoliata; Citrus sinensis; chlorophyll fluorescence; photosynthesis.

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