, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 125–134 | Cite as

Increase in photosynthesis of maize hybrids (Zea mays L.) at suboptimal temperature (15 °C) by selection of parental lines on the basis of chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements



We tested the usefulness of chlorophyll a fluorescence quenching analysis for the selection of maize parental inbred lines able to produce F1 hybrids with a high CO2 assimilation rate during growth at suboptimal temperature. Fifty inbred lines, grown at 15 °C, showed at 6 °C a broad genetic variability regarding the quantum yield of photosynthetic electron transport (ΦPS2). A decrease of ΦPS2 in sensitive lines was caused more by reduction of the efficiency of excitation energy capture by open photosystem 2 (PS2) reaction centres (Fv'/Fm') than by a drop in photochemical quenching (qP). Selected inbred lines with the highest (H) and the lowest (L) values of ΦPS2 were used for separate crossings in a diallelic arrangement. Twenty-one of H×H hybrids and 21 of the L×L hybrids were grown at 15 °C. The H×H hybrids showed at suboptimal temperature a significantly higher transport of photosynthetic electrons than the L×L hybrids at lower (400) as well as at higher [800 μmol(photon) m−2 s−1] irradiance. The mean net photosynthetic rate (PN) in H×H and L×L hybrids amounted to 8.4 and 5.8 (second leaf) and 8.5 and 7.6 μmol(CO2) m−2 s−1 (third leaf), respectively. Among the best 20 hybrids with regard to PN (values larger than the average) of second leaves, as many as 15 were derived from H lines (75 % of hybrids), whereas among the best 21 hybrids with regard to PN of the third leaves, 16 were derived from H lines (76 % of hybrids). The intensive PN of H×H hybrids was most often accompanied by less water lost via transpiration in relation to photosynthesis than in the hybrids of L lines. Hence an analysis of chlorophyll a fluorescence quenching enables the selection of inbred lines, which can produce hybrids with improved CO2 fixation and with efficient water management during growth at suboptimal temperature.

Additional key words

breeding chilling tolerance intercellular CO2 concentration net photosynthetic rate photosynthetic efficiency stomatal conductance temperature stress transpiration rate 



intercellular CO2 concentration




efficiency of excitation energy capture by open PS2 reaction centres

H, L

maize inbred lines with high or low ΦPS2 at 15 °C, respectively


least significant difference


net photosynthetic rate


photosystem 2


photochemical fluorescence quenching


standard error of the mean


quantum efficiency of PS2 electron transport


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant PhysiologyAgricultural UniversityKrakowPoland
  2. 2.Institute of Plant PhysiologyPolish Academy of SciencesKrakówPoland
  3. 3.Crop Breeding Station Nasiona Kobierzyc Ltd.KobierzycePoland

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