Photosynthesis in newly developed leaves of heat-tolerant wheat acclimates to long-term nocturnal warming

Onoriode Coast, Andrew P. Scafaro, Helen Bramley, Nicolas L. Taylor, Owen K. Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined photosynthetic traits of pre-existing and newly developed flag leaves of four wheat genotypes grown in controlled-environment experiments. In newly developed leaves, acclimation of the maximum rate of net CO2 assimilation (An) to warm nights (i.e. increased An) was associated with increased capacity of Rubisco carboxylation and photosynthetic electron transport, with Rubisco activation state probably contributing to increased Rubisco activity. Metabolite profiling linked acclimation of An to greater accumulation of monosaccharides and saturated fatty acids in leaves; these changes suggest roles for osmotic adjustment of leaf turgor pressure and maintenance of cell membrane integrity. By contrast, where An decreased under warm nights, the decline was related to lower stomatal conductance and rates of photosynthetic electron transport. Decreases in An occurred despite higher basal PSII thermal stability in all genotypes exposed to warm nights: Tcrit of 45-46.5 degrees C in non-acclimated versus 43.8-45 degrees C in acclimated leaves. Pre-existing leaves showed no change in An-temperature response curves, except for an elite heat-tolerant genotype. These findings illustrate the impact of night-time warming on the ability of wheat plants to photosynthesize during the day, thereby contributing to explain the impact of global warming on crop productivity.Wheat photosynthesis and acclimation capacity are directly affected by night warming, despite the temporal separation of night warming from photosynthesis, with varying responses between newly developed and pre-existing leaves.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbererad437
Pages (from-to)962-978
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number3
Early online date4 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2024


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