Abstract The ‘end-of-day’ phytochrome control of internode growth was characterized in Sinapis alba, seedlings previously grown under continuous white light for 13 d. The transition from white light to darkness caused a reduction in internode extension rate with a lag of less than 10 min. Following this, extension rate remained almost constant for at least 48 h. i.e. ‘re-etiolation’ was not noticed. The phytochorme controlling the growth processes was stable in the Pfr form. The growth rate of plants receiving a red light pulse, and the growth promotion caused by a far-red light pulse, increased with increasing fluence rate of the previous white light treatment. In far-red treated plants a first growth rate acceleration peaked at 20–30 min after the end of white light, followed by a transient deceleration which led to a growth rate minimum at 40–60 min, followed by a final growth rate recovery yielding a more-or-less steady elevated rate. Pulses establishing different Pfr/P modified the extent, but not the early kinetics, of the growth response. The relative promotion of growth caused by low Pfr/P was limited by darkness as follows: (a), The growth promotion caused by far-red directed to the internode alone was transient. (b), The promotion caused by a reduction of Pfr/P in the whole shoot persisted in darkness for at least 48 h and also persisted if, after a 3–9 h dark period, the plants were returned to continuous white light. In darkness, however, the magnitude of this growth rate promotion decreased with time, particularly when the previous white light fluence rate was low, or the pulse preceding darkness provided the lowest Pfr/P. (c), When compared over the same period in darkness, growth rate was higher in those seedlings in which Pfr/P was reduced during the continuous white light pretreatment than in those ones in which the Pfr/P was only reduced immediately before darkness. It is proposed that in the natural environment, red/far-red signals could be more effective when provided during daytime than at the end of the photoperiod, as both the background growth rate and the relative promotion caused by low Pfr/P are reduced by darkness.
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