Jean-Louis Prioul , Judy Brangeon and Agnès Reyss Laboratoire Structure et Métabolisme des Plantes, associé au Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (LA 040), Bât. 490, Université de Paris-Sud F 91405, Orsay, Cedex, France Abstract Morphological and functional features were compared along a developing third leaf and fully expanded leaf from high-light- and low-light-acclimated seedlings of Lolium multiflorum. The young leaf contains a gradient of differentiating tissue, ranging from meristematic cells at the leaf base to mature tissue at the tip; this gradient can be related to the maturation of a functional photosynthetic apparatus. Along the fully expanded leaf, a decreasing gradient from tip to base is maintained for functional characteristics (net maximum photosynthesis, chlorophyll content, and ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase activity) and for a number of structural parameters (number of mesophyll cells and their external surface area, number of chloroplasts and their envelope area), irrespective of the light regime. In contrast, a constancy in the absolute intrachloroplastic lamellar content per plastid was revealed whatever the position in the leaf or irradiance received. However, the relative membrane content was lower in high-light chloroplasts due to their larger volume compared to low-light plastids (dilution effect). The longitudinal differences in functional and morphological characteristics are interpreted as the result of interaction between the internal gradient of differentiating tissue along a developing young leaf and the external light conditions during development.
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