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Carotenoid composition in Zea mays developed at sub-optimal temperature and different light intensities


P. Haldimann (corresponding author).


The content and composition of pigments were examined in the third leaf of Zea mays L. plants grown under controlled environment at near-optimal temperature (24°C) or sub-optimal temperature (14°C) at a light intensity of either 200 or 600 μmol m−2 s−1. Compared to leaves grown at 24°C, leaves grown at 14°C showed a large reduction in the chlorophyll (Chl) content, a marked decrease in the Chl a/b ratio, and a large increase in the ratio of total carotenoids/Chl a+b. Leaves grown at 14°C showed a much lower content of β-carotene than leaves grown at 24°C, while the content of the carotenoids of the xanthophyll cycle (violaxanthin [V] + antheraxanthin [A] + zeaxanthin [Z]) was markedly higher in the former leaves as compared to the latter leaves; neoxanthin and lutein were affected by the growth temperature to a much lesser extent. The xanthophylls/β-carotene ratio was about three times higher in leaves grown at 14°C as compared to leaves grown at 24°C. On a chlorophyll basis, the two types of leaves hardly differed in their level of β-carotene, while the levels of the xanthophylls (including lutein and neoxanthin) were higher in 14°C-grown leaves as compared to 24°C-grown leaves. In leaves grown at 14°C, 40 and 56% of the V+A+Z pool was in the form of zeaxanthin at low light intensity and high light intensity, respectively. Only trace amounts of zeaxanthin, if any, were present in leaves grown at 24°C. The changes in the pigment composition induced by growth at sub-optimal temperature were more pronounced at a light intensity of 600 as compared to 200 μmol m−2 s−1. In the given range, the light intensity slightly affected the composition of pigments in leaves grown at 24°C. The physiological significance of the modifications to the pigment composition induced by growth at sub-optimal temperature is discussed.