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The xanthophyll cycle is induced by light irrespective of water status in field-grown lavender (Lavandula stoechas) plants

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The water relations, the photosynthetic capacity and the pigment content of leaves, i.e. chlorophylls, carotenes and xanthophylls, were analysed during the summer drought and recovery after autumn rainfalls in lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) plants grown in Mediterranean field conditions. Summer drought caused photoinhibition of photosynthesis and significant decreases in chlorophylls (by ca 75%), -carotene (by ca 65%), and lutein and neoxanthin (by ca 50%), although their contents remained unaltered between predawn and midday, suggesting a progressive decrease in response to drought. In contrast, the levels of violaxanthin decreased from predawn to midday, giving rise to enhanced formation of zeaxanthin and antheraxanthin in high light. Zeaxanthin and antheraxanthin formation was not induced by water deficit. Although the levels of photosynthetic pigments were severely affected by water deficit, carotenoids decreased less than chlorophylls, which resulted in increased levels of carotenoids per unit of chlorophyll. We conclude that the enhanced formation of zeaxanthin in high light and the increased levels of carotenoids per unit of chlorophyll observed in water-stressed plants may help to avoid photoinhibitory damage to the photosynthetic apparatus.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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