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Responses of leaf respiration to heatwaves

Responses of leaf respiration to heatwaves

Scafaro, Andrew P., Fan, Yuzhen, Posch, Bradley C., Garcia, Andres, Coast, Onoriode ORCID: 0000-0002-5013-4715 and Atkin, Owen K. (2021) Responses of leaf respiration to heatwaves. Plant, Cell & Environment, 44 (7). pp. 2090-2101. ISSN 0140-7791 (Print), 1365-3040 (Online) (doi:

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Mitochondrial respiration (R) is central to plant physiology and responds dynamically to daily short-term temperature changes. In the longer-term, changes in energy demand and membrane fluidity can decrease leaf R at a common temperature and increase the temperature at which leaf R peaks (Tmax). However, leaf R functionality is more susceptible to short-term heatwaves. Catalysis increases with rising leaf temperature, driving faster metabolism and leaf R demand, despite declines in photosynthesis restricting assimilate supply and growth. Proteins denature as temperatures increase further, adding to maintenance costs. Excessive heat also inactivates respiratory enzymes, with a concomitant limitation on the capacity of the R system. These competing push-and-pull factors are responsible for the diminishing acceleration in leaf R rate as temperature rises. Under extreme heat, membranes become overly fluid and enzymes such as the cytochrome c oxidase are impaired. Such changes can lead to over-reduction of the energy system culminating in reactive oxygen species production. This ultimately leads to the total breakdown of leaf R, setting the limit of leaf survival. Understanding the heat stress responses of leaf R is imperative given the continued rise in frequency and intensity of heatwaves and the importance of R for plant fitness and survival.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: leaf respiration, mitochondria, thermal acclimation, heat stress, high temperature
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Ecosystem Services Research Group
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 01:38

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