High ammonium supply impairs photosynthetic efficiency in rice exposed to excess light

  • V. T. C. B. Alencar
  • A. K. M. Lobo
  • F. E. L. Carvalho
  • J. A. G. SilveiraEmail author
Original Article


Mechanisms involving ammonium toxicity, excess light, and photosynthesis are scarcely known in plants. We tested the hypothesis that high NH4+ supply in presence of high light decreases photosynthetic efficiency of rice plants, an allegedly tolerant species. Mature rice plants were previously supplied with 10 mM NH4+ or 10 mM NO3 and subsequently exposed to 400 µmol m−2 s−1 (moderate light—ML) or 2000 µmol m−2 s−1 (high light—HL) for 8 h. HL greatly stimulated NH4+ accumulation in roots and in a minor extent in leaves. These plants displayed significant delay in D1 protein recovery in the dark, compared to nitrate-supplied plants. These responses were related to reduction of both PSII and PSI quantum efficiencies and induction of non-photochemical quenching. These changes were also associated with higher limitation in the donor side and lower restriction in the acceptor side of PSI. This later response was closely related to prominent decrease in stomatal conductance and net CO2 assimilation that could have strongly affected the energy balance in chloroplast, favoring ATP accumulation and NPQ induction. In parallel, NH4+ induced a strong increase in the electron flux to photorespiration and, inversely, it decreased the flux to Rubisco carboxylation. Overall, ammonium supply negatively interacts with excess light, possibly by enhancing ammonium transport towards leaves, causing negative effects on some photosynthetic steps. We propose that high ammonium supply to rice combined with excess light is capable to induce strong delay in D1 protein turnover and restriction in stomatal conductance, which might have contributed to generalized disturbances on photosynthetic efficiency.


Ammonia toxicity D1 turnover Photosynthesis Photoinhibition Photosystems Oryza sativa 



Maximum net CO2 assimilation rate


Intercellular CO2 partial concentration


Electron transport rate at PSI


Electron transport rate at PSII


Dark maximum fluorescence


Light maximum fluorescence


Dark minimum fluorescence


Light minimum fluorescence after the far-red illumination


Light steady-state fluorescence


Maximum quantum efficiency of PSII


Electron flux to Rubisco carboxylation


Maximum electron transport rate


Electron flux to Rubisco oxygenation


Non-photochemical quenching


Oxygen evolving complex


Photosynthetic photon flux density


Maximum Rubisco carboxylation rate


Acceptor side limitation of PSI


Donor side limitation of PSI


Photosynthetic electron transport chain



The authors are grateful to Prof. Danilo M. Daloso for the manuscript revision and important suggestions. Authors also acknowledge to Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico—CNPq), INCT Plant Stress Biotech (Conselho de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) Proc. 465480/2014-4 and Fundação Cearense de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (FUNCAP) for funding. FELC is supported by FUNCAP/CAPES (Bolsista CAPES/BRASIL—Proc. 88887.162856/2018-00). AKML is supported by CNPq (Proc. 154471/2018-6).

Supplementary material

11120_2019_614_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (352 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 351 KB)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, Laboratório de Metabolismo de PlantasUniversidade Federal do CearáFortalezaBrazil

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