The recovery of photosynthesis in tomato subsequent to chilling exposure

Bjorn Martin, Donald R. Ort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The overall success of a plant in coping with low temperature sensitivity of photosynthesis is dependent not only on the maximum extent of inhibition suffered for a given time of low temperature exposure but also on the persistence of the inhibition after normal growth temperatures are restored. Thus the capacity of recovery and the speed with which a plant can recover from the effects of chilling exposure are important parameters in determining how devastating the chilling event will be on season-long growth and yields. We have studied the recovery of CO2-saturated photosynthesis from the injury caused by exposing intact tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Floramerica) or detached tomato leaves to a temperature of 1°C in the dark for varying periods of time. We found that net photosynthesis was fully recovered within 12 h after returning the plants to 25°C in the dark, even after chilling exposures as long as 45 h. This was true for intact plants as well as for detached leaves that were supplied with water. When chilling took place in the light (4°C, 1000 μE · m-2 · s-1, PAR) inhibition of photosynthesis was more severe and appeared more quickly and the recovery was slower and incomplete. A 12 h chilling exposure in the light resulted in injury to net photosynthesis that was not fully recovered even after 50 h. Chilling damage to photosynthesis developing in the light was distinguished from chilling in the dark by the decreased photosynthetic quantum yield. Not only did high intensity illumination enhance chilling damage of photosynthesis but bright light subsequent to the chilling exposure also delayed the recovery of photosynthesis. At none of the three ambient CO2 concentrations investigated (300, 1500 and 5000 μ1.1-1) did the recovery of photosynthesis depend on stomatal conductance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-132
Number of pages12
JournalPhotosynthesis research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1985


  • chilling
  • chloroplast
  • photosynthesis
  • stomates
  • tomato

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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