Photosynthetic activity of developing leaves of Zea mays is less affected by heat stress than that of developed leaves


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Various physiological and biochemical characters of a leaf change with stages of its ontogeny. It is likely that the photosynthetic functions of leaves of different ontogeny have different levels of heat tolerance. This study was initiated to analyze the photosynthetic heat tolerance of fully-developed, nearly-developed (more than 2/3 expanded) and developing (10–12 cm visible) leaves of two maize genotypes, F223 and F250. The results indicate that the photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate (Pn) of developing leaves was less affected by heat stress (42°C in the dark for 90 min) than that of developed leaves. The impaired Pn recovered within 24 h in the developing leaves, while the Pn of developed and nearly-developed leaves did not reach the non-stress level, even after 72 h. The Pn of the developed leaves of genotype F250 was less affected by heat stress than that of genotype F223. After heat stress, the slightly affected Pn of the developing leaf was associated with the almost unchanged photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) and the quantum yield of photosystem II electron transport. The chlorophylls a and b were degraded by heat stress; the degradation was pronounced in the developed leaves. As a result of heat stress, the antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin of the xanthophyll cycle accumulated in both the nearly-developed and developed leaves but not in the developing leaves. Injury to the plasma membrane due to heat stress was much less severe in developing leaves than that in the developed leaves. From the physiological characters which we determined it would appear that the Pn functions of the developing leaves are more resistant to heat stress than those of nearly-developed and developed leaves.