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Can the exceptional chilling tolerance of C-4 photosynthesis found in Miscanthus x giganteus be exceeded?: screening of a novel Miscanthus Japanese germplasm collection

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Katarzyna Glowacka
  • Uffe Jorgensen
  • Jens B. Kjeldsen
  • Kirsten Korup
  • Idan Spitz
  • Erik J. Sacks
  • Stephen P. Long
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Annals of Botany
Issue number6
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)981-990
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/04/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background and Aims A clone of the hybrid perennial C4 grass Miscanthus x giganteus (Mxg) is known for achieving exceptionally high rates of leaf CO2 uptake during chilling. This is a requisite of success in the early spring, as is the ability of the leaves to survive occasional frosts. The aim of this study was to search for genotypes with greater potential than Mxg for photosynthesis and frost survival under these conditions.

Methods A total of 864 accessions representing 164 local populations of M. sacchariflorus (Msa), M. sinensis (Msi) and M. tinctorius (Mti) collected across Japan were studied. Accessions whose leaves survived a natural late frost in the field were screened for high maximum photosystem II efficiency (F-v/F-m) following chilling weather, as an indicator of their capacity for light-limited photosynthesis. Those showing the highest F-v/F-m were transferred to a high-light-controlled environment and maintained at chilling temperatures, where they were further screened for their capacities for high-light-limited and light-saturated leaf uptake of CO2 (Phi(CO2,max) and A(sat), respectively).

Key Results For the first time, relatives of Mxg with significantly superior capacities for photosynthesis at chilling temperatures were identified. Msa accession '73/2' developed leaves in the spring that survived night-time frost, and during growth under chilling maintained a statistically significant 79 % higher Phi(CO2,max), as a measure of light-limited photosynthesis, and a 70 % higher Asat, as a measure of light-saturated photosynthesis. A second Msa accession, '73/3' also showed significantly higher rates of leaf uptake of CO2.

Conclusions As remarkable as Mxg has proved in its chilling tolerance of C-4 photosynthesis, this study shows that there is still value and potential in searching for yet more superior tolerance. Msa accession '73/2' shows rates of light-limited and light-saturated photosynthesis at chilling temperatures that are comparable with those of the most cold-tolerant C-3 species. This adds further proof to the thesis that C-4 photosynthesis is not inherently limited to warm climates.