Press release from Estonian University of Life Sciences (October 22, 2014)
A research team led by professor Ülo Niinemets described the global variation patterns of photosynthesis in plant canopies, results of the work, titled A worldwide analysis of within-canopy variations in leaf structural, chemical and physiological traits across plant functional types, constituting an important input to all Earth System Models predicting global variations in plant productivity and climate.
Plant carbon fixation at the expense of light energy, photosynthesis, is the fundamental process responsible for the bulk of organic carbon on Earth. The rate of photosynthesis is directly dependent on the amount of absorbed light energy, but light is the most variable environmental factor within plant canopies that can extend from a few cm in moss canopies to even 150 m in the canopies of the tallest trees. So far, structural and physiological acclimation of plant photosynthetic apparatus has not been taken into account in most of the global photosynthesis models.
A team led by professor Ülo Niinemets has carried out an extensive investigation revealing the overall range of within-canopy photosynthetic variation and structural and physiological mechanisms driving the within-canopy photosynthetic acclimation. The investigation is the largest study to date characterizing plant plasticity to environmental variation. Altogether, 831 within-canopy gradients were analyzed across the Earth ecosystems. The results of this work constitute an important input to all Earth System Models predicting global variations in plant productivity and climate.
Other scientists involved in the global analysis were Dr. Trevor Keenan (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) and Dr. Lea Hallik (Tõravere Observatory, Estonia).
The summary of the analysis was published as a Tansley review in the broad-spectrum plant science journal The New Phytologist.
For further information:
Niinemets, Ü., Keenan, T. F. and Hallik, L. 2014. Tansley review. A worldwide analysis of within-canopy variations in leaf structural, chemical and physiological traits across plant functional types, The New Phytologist.