iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Relationships between leaf physiognomy and sensitivity of photosynthetic processes to freezing for subtropical evergreen woody plants

Dongmei Cheng, Zhiyong Zhang   , Saixia Zhou, Yansong Peng, Li Zhang

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 551-557 (2019)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3196-012
Published: Dec 17, 2019 - Copyright © 2019 SISEF

Research Articles

Subtropical and tropical species in high altitude suffer from low temperature more frequently than those from temperate regions. Chlorophyll fluorescence analysis can measure the primary photochemical processes of photosystem II (PSII) and help evaluate the sensitivity of evergreen woody plants to low temperature. Coupled with leaf physiognomy, it has allowed to examine the potential thermal regulation of evergreens in response to extreme coldness. The leaf physiognomy (length, width, thickness and ratio of length/width) and chlorophyll a fluorescence (Fv/Fm, maximum potential photochemical efficiency of PSII; NPQ, non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence; and Y(II), effective photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II) under natural freezing and recovery conditions of nine evergreen woody trees were measured to analyze their relationships. Results showed that the changes of Fv/Fm under freezing versus recovery had a positive relationship with leaf length and width, while a negative relationship with leaf thickness. Similar to leaf size, leaf shape also influenced the photoinhibition levels of evergreens by regulating the leaf boundary layer thickness. Leaves with an oval-like shape suffered less from freezing than leaves with a lanceolate-like shape. A relatively weaker relationship between NPQ and Y(II) was found at freezing than after recovery for species with larger and lanceolate-like leaves. Our findings are helpful to understand the adaptation strategy of evergreen woody species to extreme low temperature in subtropical areas and to provide guidance for the management of evergreen plants introduced in botanical gardens.


Leaf Size, Leaf Shape, Chlorophyll a Fluorescence, Photoinhibition, Low Temperature Stress, Evergreens

Authors’ address

Dongmei Cheng
Zhiyong Zhang
Saixia Zhou
Yansong Peng
Li Zhang
Lushan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 332900, Jiangxi (China)

Corresponding author

Zhiyong Zhang


Cheng D, Zhang Z, Zhou S, Peng Y, Zhang L (2019). Relationships between leaf physiognomy and sensitivity of photosynthetic processes to freezing for subtropical evergreen woody plants. iForest 12: 551-557. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3196-012

Academic Editor

Claudia Cocozza

Paper history

Received: Jul 19, 2019
Accepted: Oct 14, 2019

First online: Dec 17, 2019
Publication Date: Dec 31, 2019
Publication Time: 2.13 months

Breakdown by View Type

(Waiting for server response...)

Article Usage

Total Article Views: 33832
(from publication date up to now)

Breakdown by View Type
HTML Page Views: 29728
Abstract Page Views: 2129
PDF Downloads: 1473
Citation/Reference Downloads: 10
XML Downloads: 492

Web Metrics
Days since publication: 1652
Overall contacts: 33832
Avg. contacts per week: 143.36

Article Citations

Article citations are based on data periodically collected from the Clarivate Web of Science web site
(last update: Feb 2023)

(No citations were found up to date. Please come back later)


Publication Metrics

by Dimensions ©

Articles citing this article

List of the papers citing this article based on CrossRef Cited-by.

Ball MC, Wolfe J, Canny M, Hofmann M, Nicotra AB, Hughes D (2002)
Space and time dependence of temperature and freezing in evergreen leaves. Functional Plant Biology 29 (11): 1259-1272.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Björkman O, Demmig B (1987)
Photon yield of O2 evolution and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics at 77 K among vascular plants of diverse origins. Planta 170 (4): 489-504.
CrossRef | Gscholar
DeEll JR, Toivonen PMA (2003)
Practical applications of chlorophyll fluorescence in plant biology. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 132.
Demmig-Adams B (1990)
Carotenoids and photoprotection in plants: a role for the xanthophyll zeaxanthin. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics 1020 (1): 1-24.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Fang J, Wang Z, Tang Z (2011)
Atlas of woody plants in China: distribution and climate. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany, pp. 326-1487.
Online | Gscholar
Franklin S, Comer P, Evens J, Ezcurra E, Faber-Langendoen D, Franklin J, Jennings M, Josse C, Lea C, Loucks O, Muldavin E, Peet R, Ponomarenko S, Roberts D, Solomeshch A, Keeler-Wolf T, Kley JV, Weakley A, McKerrow A, Burke M, Spurrier C (2015)
How a national vegetation classification can help ecological research and management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13 (4): 185-186.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Ge JL, Xie ZQ (2017)
Geographical and climatic gradients of evergreen versus deciduous broad-leaved tree species in subtropical China: implications for the definition of the mixed forest. Ecology and Evolution 7 (11): 3636-3644.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Givnish TJ (2002)
Adaptive significance of evergreen vs. deciduous leaves: solving the triple paradox. Silva Fennica 36 (3): 703-743.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Gottschlich DE, Smith AP (1982)
Convective heat transfer characteristics of toothed leaves. Oecologia 53 (3): 418-420.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Grace J, Fasehun FE, Dixon M (1980)
Boundary layer conductance of the leaves of some tropical timber trees. Plant, Cell and Environment 3 (6): 443-450.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Grubb PJ (1977)
Control of forest growth and distribution on wet tropical mountains: with special reference to mineral nutrition. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 8 (1): 83-107.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Harrison SP, Prentice IC, Barboni D, Kohfeld KE, Ni J, Sutra JP (2010)
Ecophysiological and bioclimatic foundations for a global plant functional classification. Journal of Vegetation Science 21 (2): 300-317.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Holmes MG, Keiller DR (2002)
Effects of pubescence and waxes on the reflectance of leaves in the ultraviolet and photosynthetic wavebands: a comparison of a range of species. Plant, Cell and Environment 25 (1): 85-93.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Kincaid DT (1976)
Theoretical and experimental investigations of Ilex pollen and leaves in relation to microhabitat in the southeastern United States. PhD thesis, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA, pp. 336.
Leegood RC, Edwards GE (1996)
Carbon metabolism and photorespiration: temperature dependence in relation to other environmental factors. In: “Photosynthesis and the Environment” (Baker NR ed). Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 191-221.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Leigh A, Sevanto S, Ball MC, Close JD, Ellsworth DS, Knight CA, Nicotra AB, Vogel S (2012)
Do thick leaves avoid thermal damage in critically low wind speeds? New Phytologist 194 (2): 477-487.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Leigh A, Sevanto S, Close JD, Nicotra AB (2017)
The influence of leaf size and shape on leaf thermal dynamics: does theory hold up under natural conditions? Plant, Cell and Environment 40 (2): 237-248.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Leuning R (1988)
Leaf temperatures during radiation frost Part II. A steady state theory. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 42 (2): 135-155.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Li ZZ, Li XM, Rubert-Nason KF, Yang Q, Fu Q, Feng JC, Shi S (2018)
Photosynthetic acclimation of an evergreen broadleaved shrub (Ammopiptanthus mongolicus) to seasonal climate extremes on the Alxa Plateau, a cold desert ecosystem. Trees 32 (2): 603-614.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Lusk CH, Clearwater MJ, Laughlin DC, Harrison SP, Prentice IC, Nordenstahl M, Smith B (2018)
Frost and leaf-size gradients in forests: global patterns and experimental evidence. New Phytologist 219 (2): 565-573.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Meng TT, Wang H, Harrison SP, Prentice IC, Ni J, Wang G (2015)
Responses of leaf traits to climatic gradients: adaptive variation versus compositional shifts. Biogeosciences 12 (9): 5339-5352.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Müller P, Li XP, Niyogi KK (2001)
Non-photochemical quenching. A response to excess light energy. Plant Physiology 125(4): 1558.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Nichlos SA, Wilson CR, Lusk CH (2019)
Differential effects of elevation on leaf size of overstorey and understorey species in a temperate rainforest. New Zealand Journal of Botany 57 (1): 39-49.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Nicotra AB, Cosgrove MJ, Cowling A, Schlichting CD, Jones CS (2008)
Leaf shape linked to photosynthetic rates and temperature optima in South African Pelargonium species. Oecologia 154 (4): 625-635.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Niinemets U (1999)
Research review. Components of leaf dry mass per area- thickness and density-alter leaf photosynthetic capacity in reverse directions in woody plants. New Phytologist 144 (1): 35-47.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Niinemets U (2001)
Global-scale climatic controls of leaf dry mass per area, density, and thickness in trees and shrubs. Ecology 82 (2): 453-469.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Nobel PS (1975)
Effective thickness and resistance of the air boundary layer adjacent to spherical plant parts. Journal of Experimental Botany 26 (1): 120-130.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Öquist G, Hüner NP (2003)
Photosynthesis of overwintering evergreen plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology 54: 329-355.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Parkhurst DF, Loucks O (1972)
Optimal leaf size in relation to environment. Journal of Ecology 60 (2): 505-537.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Peppe DJ, Royer DL, Cariglino B, Oliver SY, Newman S, Leight E, Enikolopov G, Fernandez-Burgos M, Herrera F, Adams JM (2011)
Sensitivity of leaf size and shape to climate: global patterns and paleoclimatic applications. New Phytologist 190 (3): 724-739.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Richards PW, Ashton PS (1997)
The tropical rain forest (2nd edn). Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12 (5): 202-202.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Royer DL, Wilf P, Janesko DA, Kowalski EA, Dilcher DL (2005)
Correlations of climate and plant ecology to leaf size and shape: potential proxies for the fossil record. American Journal of Botany 92 (7): 1141-1151.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Serôdio J, Vieira S, Cruz S, Coelho H (2006)
Rapid light-response curves of chlorophyll fluorescence in microalgae: relationship to steady-state light curves and non-photochemical quenching in benthic diatom-dominated assemblages. Photosynthesis Research 90 (1): 29-43.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Sharma P, Sharma N, Deswal R (2005)
The molecular biology of the low temperature response in plants. Bioessays 27 (10): 1048-1059.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Tang CQ, Ohsawa M (1997)
Zonal transition of evergreen, deciduous, and coniferous forests along the altitudinal gradient on a humid subtropical mountain, Mt. Emei, Sichuan, China. Plant Ecology 133 (1): 63-78.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Tang CQ, Ohsawa M (1999)
Altitudinal distribution of evergreen broad-leaved trees and their leaf-size pattern on a humid subtropical mountain, Mt. Emei, Sichuan, China. Plant Ecology 145 (2): 221-233.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Vogel S (2009)
Leaves in the lowest and highest winds: temperature, force and shape. New Phytologist 183 (1): 13-26.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Wang H, Prentice I, Ni J (2013)
Data-based modelling and environmental sensitivity of vegetation in China. Biogeosciences 10 (9): 5817-5830.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Whitmore TC (1975)
Tropical rain forests of the Far East. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 282.
Online | Gscholar
Wright IJ, Dong N, Maire V, Prentice IC, Westoby M, Díaz S, Gallagher RV, Jacobs BF, Kooyman R, Law EA, Leishman MR, Niinemets Ü, Reich PB, Sack L, Villar R, Wang H, Wilf P (2017)
Global climatic drivers of leaf size. Science 357(6354): 917-921.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Yang J, Spicer RA, Spicer TEV, Arens NC, Jacques FMB, Su T, Kennedy EM, Herman AB, Steart DC, Srivastava G, Mehrotra RC, Valdes PJ, Mehrotra NC, Zhou ZK, Lai JS (2015)
Leaf form-climate relationships on the global stage: an ensemble of characters. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24 (10): 1113-1125.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Zhang XS (2007)
Vegetation map of the People’s Republic of China (1:1.000.000). Geological Publishing House, Beijing, China, pp. 93.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info