Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of photosystem II function during acclimation to zinc exposure and mineral nutrition changes in the hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens

  • Michael MoustakasEmail author
  • Gülriz Bayçu
  • Nurbir Gevrek
  • Julietta Moustaka
  • István Csatári
  • Sven Erik Rognes
Research Article


We investigated changes in mineral nutrient uptake and translocation and photosystem II (PSII) functionality, in the hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens after exposure to 800 μM Zn in hydroponic culture. Exposure to Zn inhibited the uptake of K, Mn, Cu, Ca, and Mg, while the uptake of Fe and Zn enhanced. Yet, Ca and Mg aboveground tissue concentrations remain unchanged while Cu increased significantly. In the present study, we provide new data on the mechanism of N. caerulescens acclimation to Zn exposure by elucidating the process of photosynthetic acclimation. A spatial heterogeneity in PSII functionality in N. caerulescens leaves exposed to Zn for 3 days was detected, while a threshold time of 4 days was needed for the activation of Zn detoxification mechanism(s) to decrease Zn toxicity and for the stomatal closure to decrease Zn supply at the severely affected leaf area. After 10-day exposure to Zn, the allocation of absorbed light energy in PSII under low light did not differ compared to control ones, while under high light, the quantum yield of non-regulated energy loss in PSII (ΦNO) was lower than the control, due to an efficient photoprotective mechanism. The chlorophyll fluorescence images of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) and photochemical quenching (qp) clearly showed spatial and temporal heterogeneity in N. caerulescens exposure to Zn and provided further information on the particular leaf area that was most sensitive to heavy metal stress. We propose the use of chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, and in particular the redox state of the plastoquinone (PQ) pool that was found to display the highest spatiotemporal heterogeneity, as a sensitive bio-indicator to measure the environmental pressure by heavy metals on plants.


Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging Detoxification mechanism Hydroponic culture Photoprotective mechanism Photosynthetic heterogeneity Phytoremediation Redox state Zn toxicity 


Funding information

This work was supported by Istanbul University Scientific Research Projects No 2015-44682 and BEK No 2016-21903 to G. Bayçu.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Botany, Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceIstanbul UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of BotanyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  4. 4.Department of BiosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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