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Seasonal changes in temperature response of photosynthesis and its contribution to annual carbon gain in Daphniphyllum humile, an evergreen understorey shrub



We evaluated seasonal variation in photosynthetic temperature dependence and its contribution to annual carbon gain in an evergreen understorey shrub, Daphniphyllum humile Maxim, growing at the forest border and in the understorey of a deciduous forest. Plants at both sites exhibited similar optimal temperatures for photosynthesis (Topt). The activation energy for ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylation (HaV) at both sites tended to be higher in summer than in spring or autumn, suggesting that HaV may be the controlling factor in the Topt shift in D. humile. In contrast to the seasonal changes in Topt, the maximum photosynthetic rate at the optimal temperature (Popt) differed between the two sites: it was lower in autumn than in summer at the forest border, but was the same in summer and autumn in the understorey. In the understorey plants, nitrogen content (Narea) increased in autumn, but this was not the case for forest border plants. In addition, Rubisco content increased significantly in autumn in the understorey leaves but decreased distinctly in forest border leaves. Increased Narea and Rubisco in understorey leaves resulted in increased in photosynthesis in autumn. Annual carbon gain was 30.8 mol·m−2 in forest border leaves and 5.8 mol·m−2 in understorey leaves. Carbon gain in understorey leaves during the short period after overstorey leaf fall and before snow accumulation was approximately 49% of annual carbon gain. Furthermore, autumn carbon gain calculated using activation energy of summer with autumn photosynthetic parameters underestimated the autumn carbon gain by as much as 31%. In conclusion, photosynthetic temperature acclimation may be a key factor in increasing annual carbon gain in understorey D. humile.