Effect of high temperature on photosynthesis and transpiration of sweet corn (Zea mays L. var. rugosa)

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Four temperature treatments were studied in the climate controlled growth chambers of the Georgia Envirotron: 25/20, 30/25, 35/30, and 40/35 °C during 14/10 h light/dark cycle. For the first growth stage (V3-5), the highest net photosynthetic rate (PN) of sweet corn was found for the lowest temperature of 28–34 μmol m−2 s−1 while the PN for the highest temperature treatment was 50–60 % lower. We detected a gradual decline of about 1 PN unit per 1 °C increase in temperature. Maximum transpiration rate (E) fluctuated between 0.36 and 0.54 mm h−1 (≈5.0–6.5 mm d−1) for the high temperature treatment and the minimum E fluctuated between 0.25 and 0.36 mm h−1 (≈3.5–5.0 mm d−1) for the low temperature treatment. Cumulative CO2 fixation of the 40/35 °C treatment was 33.7 g m−2 d−1 and it increased by about 50 % as temperature declined. The corresponding water use efficiency (WUE) decreased from 14 to 5 g(CO2) kg−1(H2O) for the lowest and highest temperature treatments, respectively. Three main factors affected WUE, PN, and E of Zea: the high temperature which reduced PN, vapor pressure deficit (VPD) that was directly related to E but did not affect PN, and quasi stem conductance (QC) that was directly related to PN but did not affect E. As a result, WUE of the 25/20 °C temperature treatment was almost three times larger than that of 40/35 °C temperature treatment.

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