Leaves of isoprene-emitting tobacco plants maintain PSII stability at high temperatures

Susanna Pollastri, Ignasi Jorba, Timothy J. Hawkins, Joan Llusià, Marco Michelozzi, Daniel Navajas, Josep Peñuelas, Patrick J. Hussey, Marc R. Knight, Francesco Loreto

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust At high temperatures, isoprene-emitting plants display a higher photosynthetic rate and a lower nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) compared with nonemitting plants. The mechanism of this phenomenon, which may be very important under current climate warming, is still elusive. NPQ was dissected into its components, and chlorophyll fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) was used to analyse the dynamics of excited chlorophyll relaxation in isoprene-emitting and nonemitting plants. Thylakoid membrane stiffness was also measured using atomic force microscope (AFM) to identify a possible mode of action of isoprene in improving photochemical efficiency and photosynthetic stability. We show that, when compared with nonemitters, isoprene-emitting tobacco plants exposed at high temperatures display a reduced increase of the NPQ energy-dependent component (qE) and stable (1) chlorophyll fluorescence lifetime; (2) amplitude of the fluorescence decay components; and (3) thylakoid membrane stiffness. Our study shows for the first time that isoprene maintains PSII stability at high temperatures by preventing the modifications of the surrounding environment, namely providing a more steady and homogeneous distribution of the light-absorbing centres and a stable thylakoid membrane stiffness. Isoprene photoprotects leaves with a mechanism alternative to NPQ, enabling plants to maintain a high photosynthetic rate at rising temperatures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1307-1318
    JournalNew Phytologist (Print)
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


    • (high) temperature
    • atomic force microscopy (AFM)
    • chlorophyll fluorescence (quenching and lifetime)
    • fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM)
    • isoprene
    • nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ)
    • photosynthesis


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