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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2022, Vol. 21 Issue (3): 666-676    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63440-2
Special Issue: 玉米耕作栽培合辑Maize Physiology · Biochemistry · Cultivation · Tillage
Crop Science Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Systemic regulation of photosynthetic function in maize plants at graining stage under vertically heterogeneous light environment
WU Han-yu1, 2, QIAO Mei-yu1, ZHANG Wang-feng2, WANG Ke-ru3, LI Shao-kun3, JIANG Chuang-dao1 
1 Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, P.R.China
2 College of Agriculture, Shihezi University/Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology Agriculture of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Shihezi 832003, P.R.China
3 Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology and Ecology, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Beijing 100081, P.R.China
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Abstract  To cope with a highly heterogeneous light environment, photosynthesis in plants can be regulated systemically.  Currently, the majority of studies are carried out with various plants during the vegetative growth period.  As the reproductive sink improves photosynthesis, we wondered how photosynthesis is systemically regulated at the reproductive stage under a vertically heterogeneous light environment in the field.  Therefore, changes of light intensity within canopy, chlorophyll content, gas exchange, and chlorophyll a fluorescence transient were carefully investigated at the graining stage of maize under various planting densities.  In this study, a high planting density of maize drastically reduced the light intensities in the lower canopy, and increased the difference in vertical light distribution within the canopy.  With the increase of vertical heterogeneity, chlorophyll content, light-saturated photosynthetic rate and the quantum yield of electron transport in the ear leaf (EL) and the fourth leaf below the ear (FLBE) were decreased gradually, and the ranges of declines in these parameters were larger at FLBE than those at EL.  Leaves in the lower canopy were shaded artificially to further test these results.  Partial shading (PS) resulted in a vertically heterogeneous light environment and enhanced the differences in photosynthetic characteristics between EL and FLBE.  Removing the tassel and top leaves (RTL) not only improved the vertical light distribution within the canopy, but also reduced the differences in photosynthetic characteristics between the two leaves.  Taken together, these results demonstrated that maize plants could enhance the vertical heterogeneity of their photosynthetic function to adapt to their light environment; slight changes of the photosynthetic function in EL at the graining stage under a vertically heterogeneous light environment indicated that the systemic regulation of photosynthesis is weak at the graining stage.

Keywords:  light environment        photosynthesis        gas exchange        chlorophyll a fluorescence transient        reproductive growth  
Received: 20 May 2020   Accepted: 28 September 2020
Fund: This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31571576) and the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA26040103).  
About author:  Correspondence JIANG Chuang-dao, Tel: +86-10-62836657, E-mail:; LI Shao-kun, Tel: +86-10-82108891, E-mail:; ZHANG Wang-feng, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

WU Han-yu, QIAO Mei-yu, ZHANG Wang-feng, WANG Ke-ru, LI Shao-kun, JIANG Chuang-dao. 2022. Systemic regulation of photosynthetic function in maize plants at graining stage under vertically heterogeneous light environment. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 21(3): 666-676.

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