Do red and yellow autumn leaves make use of different photoprotective strategies during autumn senescence?


Physiol Plant. 2024 May-Jun;176(3):e14327. doi: 10.1111/ppl.14327.


Our goal was to determine whether anthocyanin-producing species (red) use different photoprotective strategies to cope with excess light during fall senescence compared with non-anthocyanin-producing species (yellow). In a previous study, we found that a yellow species retained the photoprotective PsbS protein in late autumn, while a red species did not. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that red species make less use of zeaxanthin and PsbS-mediated thermal dissipation, as they rely on anthocyanins for photoprotection. We monitored four red (Acer ginnala, Rhus typhnia, Parenthocissus quinquefolia, Viburnum dentatum) and four yellow species (Acer negundo, Ostrya virginiana, Vitis riparia, Zanthoxylum americanum) throughout autumn senescence and analyzed pigments, protein content, and chlorophyll fluorescence. We found yellow species retained the PsbS protein at higher levels, and had higher dark retention of zeaxanthin in late autumn relative to red species. All species retained lutein and the pool of xanthophyll cycle pigments in higher amounts than other carotenoids in late autumn. Our data support the hypothesis that red species use anthocyanins as a photoprotective strategy during autumn senescence, and therefore make less use of PsbS and zeaxanthin-mediated thermal dissipation. We also found species-specific variation in the particular combination of photoprotective strategies used.

PMID:38716559 | DOI:10.1111/ppl.14327