Publication Details

Cirocco, R. M., Waterman, M. J., Robinson, S. A., Facelli, J. M. & Watling, J. R. (2015). Native hemiparasite and light effects on photoprotection and photodamage in a native host. Functional Plant Biology: an international journal of plant function, 42 (12), 1168-1178.


Plants infected with hemiparasites often have lowered rates of photosynthesis, which could make them more susceptible to photodamage. However, it is also possible that infected plants increase their photoprotective capacity by changing their pigment content and/or engagement of the xanthophyll cycle. There are no published studies investigating infection effects on host pigment dynamics and how this relates to host susceptibility to photodamage whether in high (HL) or low light (LL). A glasshouse experiment was conducted where Leptospermum myrsinoides Schltdl. either uninfected or infected with Cassytha pubescens R.Br. was grown in HL or LL and pigment content of both host and parasite were assessed. Infection with C. pubescens significantly decreased all foliar pigment concentrations (except chlorophyll b) in L. myrsinoides in both HL and LL. Xanthophyll cycle (violaxanthin, antheraxanthin, zeaxanthin; VAZ) and chlorophyll (Chl) pigments decreased in parallel in response to infection, hence, VAZ/Chl of the host was unaffected by C. pubescens in either HL or LL. Pre-dawn and midday de-epoxidation state [(A + Z)/(V + A + Z)] of L. myrsinoides was also unaffected by infection in both HL and LL. Thus, L. myrsinoides infected with C. pubescens maintained similar photoprotective capacity per unit chlorophyll and engagement of the xanthophyll cycle as uninfected plants. Even though midday quantum yield (ΦPSII) of HL plants was affected by infection, pre-dawn maximum quantum yields (Fv/Fm) of hosts were the same as uninfected plants whether in HL or LL. This ability of L. myrsinoides to maintain photoprotective capacity/engagement when infected by C. pubescens thereby preventing photodamage could explain this host’s tolerance to hemiparasite infection.



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