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Photoinhibition, defined as the inhibition of photosynthesis caused by excessive radiance, affects field production to a great extent. This phenomenon is particularly relevant in reforestation practices, when one deals with forests of rapid growth such as Eucalyptus. The imposition of additional stress factors during exposure to high radiance increases the potential for photoinhibitory effects, so the inhibition of photosynthesis indicates that the plant is submitted to stressful conditions. Photoinhibition can be reversible, playing a protective role for the photosynthetic systems, but it can also reflect damage that has already occurred in the photo-synthetic apparatus, being irreversible in this case. In this review, we present the physiological and molecular mechanisms of photoinhibition and discuss the interaction between light and other stress factors and its effects on plants destined for reforestation. In addition, the present work analyzes some of the features and strategies that help plants avoid or restrict the occurrence of photoinhibition. For instance, pigments and enzymes which naturally occur in plants can prevent photoinhibition, while preadaptation to nonideal conditions can enhance tolerance to a certain stress factor. Most of these morphological, metabolic, and biochemical mechanisms of defense are related to the dissipation of excessive energy such as heat. Understanding these mechanisms can help improve cultivation procedures, avoid the plants' death, and increase productivity in the field.
Study of the geographical variation of yellow-flowered Teucrium sect. Polium species using morphological, chemical, and cytological analyses shows that the group of North African taxa is both differentiated from the European group and homogeneous with it. It displays stable vegetative and floral characters that are common to all the taxa. The essential differences concern the indumentum structure and the habit of the plants. The diversity of environments has enhanced the expression of successive radiations of the group. The first doubtless originated in the Betic-Rif zone and in particular in the southeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. These radiations probably first gave the group T. aureum, now endemic in the Ibero-Provençal mountains. The species then became better differentiated in North Africa. Differentiation took place in the mountain ranges (Rif, Atlas, and Hoggar) and some Mediterranean islands (off the eastern coast of Tunisia) for the current species with narrow endemism and in desert regions (steppes and the Sahara) for those with wider endemism.
Aluminum phytotoxicity and genetically based aluminum resistance has been studied intensively during recent decades because aluminum toxicity is often the primary factor limiting crop productivity on acid soils. Plants that grow on soils with high aluminum concentrations employ three basic strategies to deal with aluminum stress. While excluders effectively prevent aluminum from entering their aerial parts over a broad range of aluminum concentration in the soil, hyperaccumulators take up aluminum in their aboveground tissues in quantities above 1000 ppm; that is, far exceeding those present in the soil or in the nonaccumulating species growing nearby. In between these two extremes are indicator species, representing intermediate responses.
A list of aluminum hyperaccumulators in angiosperms is compiled on the basis of data in the literature. Aluminum hyperaccumulators include mainly woody, perennial taxa from tropical regions. Recent molecular phylogenies are used to evaluate the systematic and phylogenetic implications of the character. As was hypothesized earlier, our preliminary conclusions support the primitive status of aluminum hyperaccumulation. According to the APG classification system, this phytochemical character is found in approximately 45 families, which belong largely to the eudicots. Aluminum hyperaccumulators are particularly common in basal branches of fairly advanced groups such as rosids (Myrtales, Malpighiales, Oxalidales) and asterids (Cornales, Ericales, Gentianales, Aquifoliales), but the character has probably been lost in the most derived taxa. The feature is suggested to characterize approximately 18 families (e.g., Anisophylleaceae, Cunoniaceae, Diapensiaceae, Memecylaceae, Monimiaceae, Rapateaceae, Siparunaceae, Vochysiaceae, and several monogeneric families). In 27 other families, aluminum hyperaccumulation is restricted to subfamilies, tribes, or genera. Further analyses of a broader range of taxa are needed to examine the origin and taxonomic significance of aluminum hyperaccumulation in several clades. Aluminum hyperaccumulation provides an evolutionary model system for the integration of different biological disciplines, such as systematics, ecology, biogeography, physiology, and biochemistry. Therefore, multidisciplinary approaches are needed to make further progress in understanding the biology of aluminum hyperaccumulators.
The predominant emphasis on harmful effects of environmental stresses on growth of woody plants has obscured some very beneficial effects of such stresses. Slowly increasing stresses may induce physiological adjustment that protects plants from the growth inhibition and/or injury that follow when environmental stresses are abruptly imposed. In addition, short exposures of woody plants to extreme environmental conditions at critical times in their development often improve growth. Furthermore, maintaining harvested seedlings and plant products at very low temperatures extends their longevity.
Drought tolerance: Seedlings previously exposed to water stress often undergo less inhibition of growth and other processes following transplanting than do seedlings not previously exposed to such stress. Controlled wetting and drying cycles often promote early budset, dormancy, and drought tolerance. In many species increased drought tolerance following such cycles is associated with osmotic adjustment that involves accumulation of osmotically active substances. Maintenance of leaf turgor often is linked to osmotic adjustment. A reduction in osmotic volume at full turgor also results in reduced osmotic potential, even in the absence of solute accumulation. Changes in tissue elasticity may be important for turgor maintenance and drought tolerance of plants that do not adjust osmotically.
Water deficits and nutrient deficiencies promote greater relative allocation of photosynthate to root growth, ultimately resulting in plants that have higher root:shoot ratios and greater capacity to absorb water and minerals relative to the shoots that must be supported.
At the molecular level, plants respond to water stress by synthesis of certain new proteins and increased levels of synthesis of some proteins produced under well-watered conditions. Evidence has been obtained for enhanced synthesis under water stress of water-channel proteins and other proteins that may protect membranes and other important macromolecules from damage and denaturation as cells dehydrate.
Flood tolerance: Both artificial and natural flooding sometimes benefit woody plants. Flooding of orchard soils has been an essential management practice for centuries to increase fruit yields and improve fruit quality. Also, annual advances and recessions of floods are crucial for maintaining valuable riparian forests. Intermittent flooding protects bottomland forests by increasing groundwater supplies, transporting sediments necessary for creating favorable seed-beds, and regulating decomposition of organic matter. Major adaptations for flood tolerance of some woody plants include high capacity for producing adventitious roots that compensate physiologically for decay of original roots under soil anaerobiosis, facilitation of oxygen up-take through stomata and newly formed lenticels, and metabolic adjustments. Halophytes can adapt to saline water by salt tolerance, salt avoidance, or both.
Cold hardiness: Environmental stresses that inhibit plant growth, including low temperature, drought, short days, and combinations of these, induce cold hardening and hardiness in many species. Cold hardiness develops in two stages: at temperatures between 10° and 20°C in the autumn, when carbohydrates and lipids accumulate; and at subsequent freezing temperatures. The sum of many biochemical processes determines the degree of cold tolerance. Some of these processes are hormone dependent and induced by short days; others that are linked to activity of enzyme systems are temperature dependent. Short days are important for development of cold hardiness in species that set buds or respond strongly to photoperiod. Nursery managers often expose tree seedlings to moderate water stress at or near the end of the growing season. This accelerates budset, induces early dorma