Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sun-shade patterns of leaf carotenoid composition in 86 species of neotropical forest plants

Shizue Matsubara A D , G. Heinrich Krause B C , Jorge Aranda C , Aurelio Virgo C , Kim G. Beisel A , Peter Jahns B and Klaus Winter C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institut für Phytosphäre (ICG-3), Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich, Germany.

B Institut für Biochemie der Pflanzen, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

C Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado Postal 0843-03092, Panama, Republic of Panama.

D Corresponding author. Email: s.matsubara@fz-juelich.de

Functional Plant Biology 36(1) 20-36 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP08214
Submitted: 4 August 2008  Accepted: 10 November 2008   Published: 7 January 2009

Abstract

A survey of photosynthetic pigments, including 86 species from 64 families, was conducted for leaves of neotropical vascular plants to study sun-shade patterns in carotenoid biosynthesis and occurrence of α-carotene (α-Car) and lutein epoxide (Lx). Under low light, leaves invested less in structural components and more in light harvesting, as manifested by low leaf dry mass per area (LMA) and enhanced mass-based accumulation of chlorophyll (Chl) and carotenoids, especially lutein and neoxanthin. Under high irradiance, LMA was greater and β-carotene (β-Car) and violaxanthin-cycle pool increased on a leaf area or Chl basis. The majority of plants contained α-Car in leaves, but the α- to β-Car ratio was always low in the sun, suggesting preference for β-Car in strong light. Shade and sun leaves had similar β,ε-carotenoid contents per unit Chl, whereas sun leaves had more β,β-carotenoids than shade leaves. Accumulation of Lx in leaves was found to be widely distributed among taxa: >5 mmol mol Chl-1 in 20% of all species examined and >10 mmol mol Chl-1 in 10% of woody species. In Virola elongata (Benth.) Warb, having substantial Lx in both leaf types, the Lx cycle was operating on a daily basis although Lx restoration in the dark was delayed compared with violaxanthin restoration.

Additional keywords: carotene, carotenoid biosynthesis, chlorophyll, leaf dry mass, Virola, xanthophyll cycle.


Acknowledgements

We thank Barbara Krause, Maria Graf and Claudia Walraf for competent assistance. This study was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).


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