The functions of two important plant processes, photorespiration and monoterpene production remain controversial. Here, we investigated one possible function, that of protection of plants from photodamage at high temperatures. Fluorescence, reflectance, monoterpene concentrations and visual leaf damage were measured in Quercus ilex seedlings exposed to temperature increases from 25 to 50°C (in 5°C steps) under photorespiratory (21% O2) or nonphotorespiratory (2% O2) atmospheres, and under control or terpene fumigation conditions. Lower variable to maximum fluorescence ratio (Fv:Fm: potential photochemical efficiency of photosystem II, PSII) and electron transport rate (ETR) were found in nonphotorespiratory conditions at temperatures greater than 35°C. Monoterpene concentrations were also lower, and leaf damage greater, in the low O2 atmospheres. Monoterpene fumigation, which increased the foliar terpene concentrations by two- to four-fold, increased the photochemical efficiency between 35°C and 50°C, and decreased leaf damage, only under the nonphotorespiratory conditions. These results provide evidence that: photorespiration decreases photodamage, especially at high temperatures; photorespiration increases monoterpene production; plants are able to acquire exogenous monoterpenes and the acquisition response to temperature follows the stomatal conductance response; and monoterpenes can replace photorespiration in protection from photodamage at high temperatures, possibly by scavenging oxygen-reactive species, but they do not provide additional thermotolerance. © New Phytologist (2002).
- Electron transport rate (ETR)
- Photochemical reflectance index (PRI)