, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 215–222 | Cite as

Photosynthesis and water relations of well-watered orange plants as affected by winter and summer conditions

  • R.V. Ribeiro
  • E.C. Machado
  • M.G. Santos
  • R.F. Oliveira
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to evaluate how the summer and winter conditions affect the photosynthesis and water relations of well-watered orange trees, considering the diurnal changes in leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence, and leaf water potential (Ψ) of potted-plants growing in a subtropical climate. The diurnal pattern of photosynthesis in young citrus trees was not significantly affected by the environmental changes when compared the summer and winter seasons. However, citrus plants showed higher photosynthetic performance in summer, when plants fixed 2.9 times more CO2 during the diurnal period than in the winter season. Curiously, the winter conditions were more favorable to photosynthesis of citrus plants, when considering the air temperature (< 29 °C), leaf-to-air vapor pressure difference (< 2.4 kPa) and photon flux density (maximum values near light saturation) during the diurnal period. Therefore, low night temperature was the main environmental element changing the photosynthetic performance and water relations of well-watered plants during winter. Lower whole-plant hydraulic conductance, lower shoot hydration and lower stomatal conductance were noticed during winter when compared to the summer season. In winter, higher ratio between the apparent electron transport rate and leaf CO2 assimilation was verified in afternoon, indicating reduction in electron use efficiency by photosynthesis. The high radiation loading in the summer season did not impair the citrus photochemistry, being photoprotective mechanisms active. Such mechanisms were related to increases in the heat dissipation of excessive light energy at the PSII level and to other metabolic processes consuming electrons, which impede the citrus photoinhibition under high light conditions.

Additional key words

Citrus sinensis chlorophyll fluorescence ecophysiology gas exchange seasonality 





intercellular CO2 concentration




transpiration at 14:30 h


apparent electron transport rate


steady-state fluorescence yield in light-adapted tissues


maximum fluorescence yield in dark-adapted tissues


maximum fluorescence yield in light-adapted tissues


minimum fluorescence yield in dark-adapted tissues


fluorescence yield in light-adapted tissues after far-red illumination


variable fluorescence yield in dark-adapted tissues


maximum PSII quantum yield


stomatal conductance


whole-plant leaf specific hydraulic conductance


non-photochemical quenching


leaf CO2 assimilation


photosynthetic photon flux density


photosystem I


photosystem II


photochemical quenching


air temperature


leaf temperature


leaf-to-air vapor pressure difference


water use efficiency


variable fluorescence yield in light-adapted tissues


effective PSII quantum yield


variation of leaf water potential between pre-dawn and 14:30 h


leaf water potential


leaf water potential at pre-dawn


leaf water potential at 14:30 h


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.V. Ribeiro
    • 1
  • E.C. Machado
    • 1
  • M.G. Santos
    • 2
  • R.F. Oliveira
    • 3
  1. 1.Section of Plant Physiology, Center for Research and Development in Ecophysiology and BiophysicsAgronomic InstituteCampinas/SPBrazil
  2. 2.Department of BotanyFederal University of PernambucoRecife/PEBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences, “Luiz de Queiroz” College of AgricultureUniversity of Sao PauloPiracicaba/SPBrazil

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