Brazilian Journal of Botany
On-line version ISSN 1806-9959
LUTTGE, Ulrich and SCARANO, Fabio Rubio. Synecological comparisons sustained by ecophysiological fingerprinting of intrinsic photosynthetic capacity of plants as assessed by measurements of light response curves. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.3, pp. 355-364. ISSN 1806-9959. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-84042007000300002.
In some literature variations in photosynthetic rates are considered to be of little relevance for individual fitness. This depends among other things on how one defines fitness, i.e. if one takes strictly Darwinian fitness as seed production or if one needs to evaluate particular traits and consider plant establishment. It also matters if one takes the Darwinian "organism individual" as the central entity in evolution ("individual fitness") or the "species individual" in a modified "Structure of Evolutionary Theory" sensu Stephen Jay Gould. A phenotypically expressed trait like photosynthetic rate, even if intra- and interspecific differences may be small, can matter in habitat performance and niche acquisition. Light dependence curves (LCs) of photosynthetic rates are now readily measured under field conditions using miniaturized equipment of pulse amplitude modulated fluorometers. In contrast to actual momentary measurements of quantum yield of photosynthesis under actually prevailing ambient conditions, LC measurements reflect the expressed intrinsic capacity of photosynthesis. In this review we explore the power of LC measurements yielding cardinal points such as maximum apparent electron transport rate of photosystem II (ETRmax) and saturating photosynthetically active radiation (PARsat) in making intra- and interspecific comparisons of plant performance and synecological fingerprinting in ecophysiological studies across species, sites, habitats and ecosystems.
Keywords : ecophysiology; fitness; light dependence curves; physiological syn-ecology.