Light-induced pigment degradation in leaves and ripening fruits studied in situ with reflectance spectroscopy

Mark N. Merzlyak, Anatoly A. Gitelson, Sergei I. Pogosyan, Lucianna Lekhimena, Olga B. Chivkunova

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30 Scopus citations


Pigment breakdown mediated by activated oxygen species is a consequence and a general symptom of oxidative stress and injury to plants. We have attempted to estimate the patterns of pigment bleaching and follow pigment susceptibility to irradiation as related to the process of senescence/ripening. Light-induced pigment breakdown was studied in situ in the leaves of a shade-requiring plant, wax flower (Hoya carnosa R. Br.), as well as in apple (Malus domestica Borlh. cv. Zhigulevskoe) and lemon (Citrus limon Burm. cv. Pavlovsky) fruits, using reflectance spectroscopy. It was found that the sensitivity of plant pigments to photobleaching increases as ripening progresses in lemon fruit. Kinetic analysis showed that in all systems a rapid breakdown of the pigment occurs after a lag-phase. The signature analysis revealed a common pattern of chlorophyll and carotenoid changes, but degradation of the individual pigments was found to be inhomogeneous. Both in lemon and apple fruits a decrease in reflectance in the band of carotenoid absorption preceded pigment photodestruction. In the fruits, the bulk of chlorophyll b and the long-wavelength chlorophyll a forms were degraded at early stages of the process whereas the breakdown of both chlorophylls in H. carnosa leaves was more synchronous. Prolonged irradiation induced bleaching of the main chlorophyll a band with maximum at 678 nm in the difference spectra, as well as carotenoids. Some features of reflectance spectra in the bands of chlorophyll and carotenoid absorption were found to be suitable for the differentiation of photo-induced pigment breakdown from the transformation of the pigments taking place during senescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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