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Photosynthesis Response Of Sunlit And Shade Pepper (Capsicum Annuum) Leaves At Different Positions In The Canopy Under Two Water Regimes

A Alvino, M Centritto, FD Lorenzi

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Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) plants were grown in 1 m2 lysimeters under two different water regimes in order to investigate differences in the spatial arrangements of the leaves and to relate this to daily assimilation rates of leaves of the canopy. The control regime (well-watered (W) treatment) was irrigated whenever the accumulated 'A' pan evaporation reached 4 cm, whereas the water-stressed (S) treatment was watered whenever the predawn leaf water potential fell below -1 MPa. During the growing cycle, equal numbers of sun and shade leaves were chosen from the apical, middle and basal parts of the canopy, corresponding to groups of leaves of increasing age. The CO2 exchange rate (CER) was measured at 0830, 1230 and 1530 hours on 8 days along the crop cycle, on leaves in their natural inclination and orientation. Leaf water potentials were measured on apical leaves before dawn and concurrently with gas exchange measurements. Control plants maintained predawn leaf water potential at -0.3 MPa, but S plants reached values lower than -1.2 MPa. Midday leaf water potentials were about twice as low in the S plants as in the controls. Water stress reduced LA1 during the period of crop growth, and dry matter production at harvest. Stressed apical leaves appeared to reduce stress by changing their inclination. They were paraheliotropic around midday and diaheliotropic at 0830 and 1530 hours. The CER values of the S treatment were significantly lower than those of the W treatment in apical and middle leaves, whereas the CER of basal leaves did not differ in either treatments. In the S treatment, reduction in the CER values of sunlit apical leaves was more evident in the afternoon than at midday or early in the morning, whereas basal leaves were less affected by water than basal stress leaves if sunlit, and negligibly in shaded conditions.