, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 602–608 | Cite as

Photosynthetic performance and light response of two olive cultivars under different water and light regimes



The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is commonly grown in the Mediterranean area, where it is adapted to resist periods characterized by severe drought and high irradiance levels. Photosynthetic efficiency (in terms of Fv/Fm and ΦPSII), photochemical (qP) and nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) were determined in two-year-old olive plants (cultivars Coratina and Biancolilla) grown under two different light levels (exposed plants, EP, and shaded plants, SP) during a 21-day controlled water deficit. After reaching the maximum level of drought stress, plants were rewatered for 23 days. During the experimental period, measurements of gas exchange and chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence were carried out to study the photosynthetic performance of olive plants. The synergical effect of drought stress and high irradiance levels caused a reduction of gas exchange and photosynthetic efficiency and these decreases were more marked in EP. EP showed a higher degree of photoinhibition, a higher NPQ and a lower qP if compared to SP. Coratina was more sensitive to high light and drought stress but also showed a slower recovery during rewatering, whereas Biancolilla showed a less marked photosynthesis depression during drought and a considerable resilience during rewatering. The results confirm that photoinhibition due to high light intensity and water deficit can be an important factor that affects photosynthetic productivity in this species.

Additional keywords

drought stress light excess Olea europaea L. photoinhibition water use efficiency 





maximum fluorescence in the dark


maximum fluorescence in the light


minimum level of fluorescence


steady state fluorescence yield measured under actinic light


maximum quantum yield of PSII


stomatal conductance


nonphotochemical quenching


net photosynthetic rate


photosynthetically active radiation


photochemical quenching


quantum yield of PSII


pre-dawn leaf water potential


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We are grateful to Prof. Antonio Scopa for his important suggestions about the manuscript and for his help with the statistical analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Sofo
    • 1
  • B. Dichio
    • 1
  • G. Montanaro
    • 1
  • C. Xiloyannis
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dei Sistemi Colturali, Forestali e dell’AmbienteUniversità degli Studi della BasilicataPotenzaItaly

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