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Photosystem II quantum yield as a measure of radical scavengers in chilling injury in cucumber fruits and bell peppers

A static, dynamic and statistical model

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Cucumber fruits (Cucumis sativus L. cv. Jessica) and green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L. cvs. Lokas and Medeo) were stored at different temperatures ranging from 2 to 12°C. After three different storage periods, fruits from each temperature were transferred to 20°C for 7 d to allow for the development of visual symptoms of chilling injury (CI). During storage, the photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (PSII) in peel tissue adapted to darkness, was calculated from measurements of pulse-amplitude-modulated chlorophyll fluorescence. The decrease in PSII quantum yield during storage at low temperatures in darkness can be described as a temperature-dependent inhibition of an enzyme according to Arrhenius, assuming a negative activation energy. By comparison with the radical-scavenger measurements of Hariyadi and Parkin (1991, Postharvest Biol. Techn. 1, 33–45) it is postulated that the time and temperature dependence of the quantum yield parallels the diminution of radical-scavenging activity at lower temperatures in cucumber and capsicum fruits. This is combined with an equation for the process of radical scavenging itself and an equation for the auto-catalytic radical-producing lipid peroxidation reaction. These three basic processes lead to both a static and a dynamic model for the occurrence of chilling injury in low-temperature-sensitive plant tissue. A statistical fit of the measured data using the static model leads to the estimates of the different activation energies and reaction rates with a high degree of accuracy. The estimated values are in accord with what one would expect on the basis of knowledge of the processes leading to chilling injury, and directly point to meaningful physico-chemical parameters.

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Symmetry point of logistic curve


intensity of chilling injury


base of the natural logarithm system


activation energy



Fv/Fm :

quantum yield of PSII


reaction rate constant


amount of free radicals


amount of substrate for chilling injury (double bonds in fatty-acid chains)






amount of radical-scavenging enzyme Indices


chilling injury




any index


maximum value


minimum value


radical scavenging


reference (temperature)




initial amount


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This study was conducted in the framework of a research program on fruits and vegetables, partly financed by the Dutch Commodity Board for Vegetables and Fruits.

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Tijskens, L.M.M., Otma, E.C. & van Kooten, O. Photosystem II quantum yield as a measure of radical scavengers in chilling injury in cucumber fruits and bell peppers. Planta 194, 478–486 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00714459

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Key words

  • Chilling injury
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Mathematical model
  • Radical scavenging