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Selection of tree species for forests under climate change: is PSI functioning a better predictor for net photosynthesis and growth than PSII?

  • Pollastrini, Martina1
  • Salvatori, Elisabetta2, 3
  • Fusaro, Lina2
  • Manes, Fausto2
  • Marzuoli, Riccardo4
  • Gerosa, Giacomo4
  • Brüggemann, Wolfgang5
  • Strasser, Reto Jorg6, 7
  • Bussotti, Filippo1
  • 1 Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Firenze, Piazzale delle Cascine 28, 50144, Firenze, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 2 Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 3 ENEA, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, R.C. Casaccia, Rome, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 4 Department of Mathematics and Physics, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Via Musei 41, 25121, Brescia, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 5 Department of Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center Frankfurt am Main, Biologicum (Flügel D, 1. OG, Raum 1.420) Campu Riedberg, Max-von-Laue-Straße 13, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 6 Bioenergetics and Microbiology Laboratory, University of Geneva, Jussy-Geneva CH-1254, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 7 North West University South Africa, Potchefstroom, North-West Province, South Africa. , (South Africa)
Published Article
Tree Physiology
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Oct 29, 2020
DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpaa084
PMID: 32597979


A chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) assessment was carried out on oak seedlings (Quercus ilex L., Quercus pubescens Willd., Quercus frainetto Ten.) of Italian and Greek provenance, during the years 2017 and 2018, in a common garden in central Italy planted in 2017. This trial aimed to test the relative performances of the oak species in the perspective of assisted migration as part of the actions for the adaptation of forests to climate change. The assessment of the photosynthetic performance of the tree species included the analysis of the prompt chlorophyll fluorescence (PF) transient and the modulated reflection (MR) at 820 nm, leaf chlorophyll content, leaf gas exchange (net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance), plant growth (i.e., height) and mortality rate after 2 years from the beginning of the experiment. The assessment of the performance of the three oak species was carried out 'in vivo'. Plants were generated from seeds and exposed to several environmental factors, including changing seasonal temperature, water availability, and soil biological and physical functionality. The results of PF indicate a stable functionality of the photosynthetic system PSII (expressed as FV/FM) across species and provenances and a decline in photochemistry functionality at the I-P phase (ΔVIP) in Q. frainetto, thus indicating a decline of the content of PSI in this species. This result was confirmed by the findings of MR analysis, with the speed of reduction and subsequent oxidation of PSI (VRED and VOX) strongly correlated to the amplitude of ΔVIP. The photosynthetic rates (net photosynthesis, PN) and growth were correlated with the parameters associated with PSI content and function, rather than those related to PSII. The low performance of Q. frainetto in the common garden seems to be related to early foliar senescence with the depletion of nitrogen, due to suboptimal climatic and edaphic conditions. Chlorophyll fluorescence allowed discrimination of populations of oak species and individuation of the less (or/and best) suitable species for future forest ecology and management purposes. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]

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