• Pisum sativum;
  • acclimation;
  • chlorophyll fluorescence;
  • heat;
  • high temperature;
  • photosynthesis;
  • photosystem II;
  • ribulose-1;
  • 5-bisphosphate carboxylase;
  • oxygenase;
  • Rubisco activase;
  • thylakoid membranes


The impact of heat stress on the functioning of the photosynthetic apparatus was examined in pea (Pisum sativum L.) plants grown at control (25 °C; 25 °C-plants) or moderately elevated temperature (35 °C; 35 °C-plants). In both types of plants net photosynthesis (Pn) decreased with increasing leaf temperature (LT) and was more than 80% reduced at 45 °C as compared to 25 °C. In the 25 °C-plants, LTs higher than 40 °C could result in a complete suppression of Pn. Short-term acclimation to heat stress did not alter the temperature response of Pn. Chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements revealed that photosynthetic electron transport (PET) started to decrease when LT increased above 35 °C and that growth at 35 °C improved the thermal stability of the thylakoid membranes. In the 25 °C-plants, but not in the 35 °C-plants, the maximum quantum yield of the photosystem II primary photochemistry, as judged by measuring the Fv/Fm ratio, decreased significantly at LTs higher than 38 °C. A post-illumination heat-induced reduction of the plastoquinone pool was observed in the 25 °C-plants, but not in the 35 °C-plants. Inhibition of Pn by heat stress correlated with a reduction of the activation state of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Western-blot analysis of Rubisco activase showed that heat stress resulted in a redistribution of activase polypeptides from the soluble to the insoluble fraction of extracts. Heat-dependent inhibition of Pn and PET could be reduced by increasing the intercellular CO2 concentration, but much more effectively so in the 35 °C-plants than in the 25 °C-plants. The 35 °C-plants recovered more efficiently from heat-dependent inhibition of Pn than the 25 °C-plants. The results show that growth at moderately high temperature hardly diminished inhibition of Pn by heat stress that originated from a reversible heat-dependent reduction of the Rubisco activation state. However, by improving the thermal stability of the thylakoid membranes it allowed the photosynthetic apparatus to preserve its functional potential at high LTs, thus minimizing the after-effects of heat stress.