Photosynthesis by Tundra Plants Sensitive to Low Temperatures

Date Published
Light-harvesting processes involved in photosynthesis by tundra plants are unexpectedly sensitive to growth at low temperatures.
  • Quantify the sensitivity of leaf photosynthesis to temperature and improve the representation of component processes in models of the Arctic carbon cycle.
New Science
  • Understanding the response of photosynthesis to irradiance must account for light-harvesting processes that are unique to Arctic plants at low temperatures.
  • Terrestrial biosphere models lack these mechanistic insights, but our studies suggest how those deficiencies can be corrected.
  • Can now better understand and more realistically simulate photosynthesis in tundra ecosystems, and provide new data and insights that will advance the representation of photosynthesis in high-latitude ecosystems.
Image with caption

Tukey box plots showing the quantum yield of CO2 fixation on an absorbed light basis for all measurements made at 5°C, 15°C, and 25°C. The colored lines behind the box plots show the quantum yield for terrestrial biosphere models.


Rogers, A, SP Serbin, KS Ely, and SDWullschleger. 2019. Terrestrial biosphere models need to account for decreased quantum yield and convexity at low temperature or they will overestimate Arctic CO2 assimilation. New Phytologist 223:167-179.


This research was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 as part of the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE Arctic) project.

For more information, please contact:

Alistair Rogers