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Brazilian Journal of Botany

Print version ISSN 0100-8404On-line version ISSN 1806-9959


SILVESTRINI, Milene; VALIO, Ivany Ferraz Marques  and  MATTOS, Eduardo Arcoverde de. Photosynthesis and carbon gain under contrasting light levels in seedlings of a pioneer and a climax tree from a Brazilian Semideciduous Tropical Forest. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.3, pp.463-474. ISSN 0100-8404.

In this study we evaluated photosynthetic characteristics and patterns of biomass accumulation in seedlings of two tree species from a Semideciduous Tropical Forest of Brazil. Seedlings of Trema micrantha (L.) Blum. (pioneer) and Hymenaea courbaril (L.) var. stilbocarpa (Hayne) Lee & Langenh. (climax) were grown for 4 months under low light (LL) (5%-8% of sunlight) and high light (HL) (100% of sunlight). Under HL, T. micrantha showed higher CO2 assimilation rates (ACO2) and light saturation than H. courbaril. Under LL, ACO2 were higher in H. courbaril. Under LL, total chlorophyll and carotenoid contents per unit leaf area were higher in H. courbaril. Chlorophyll a/b ratio was higher in T. micrantha under both light regimes. ACO2 and Fv/Fm ratio at both pre-dawn and midday in H. coubaril were lower in HL indicating chronic photoinhibition. Thus, the climax species was more susceptible to photoinhibition than the pioneer. However, H. courbaril produced higher total biomass under both treatments showing high efficiency in the maintenance of a positive carbon balance. Thus, both species expressed characteristics that favor growth under conditions that resemble their natural microenvironments, but H. courbaril also grew under HL. The ecophysiological range of responses to contrasting light levels of this climax plant seems to be broader than generally observed for other rainforest climax species. We propose that this could be related to the particular spatio-temporal light regime of the semideciduous forests.

Keywords : CO2 assimilation; growth response to light; Hymenaea courbaril; photoinhibition; Trema micrantha.

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