Photosynthesis by Tundra Plants Sensitive to Low Temperatures

Photosynthesis by Tundra Plants Sensitive to Low Temperatures

November 27th, 2019

Light-harvesting processes involved in photosynthesis by tundra plants are unexpectedly sensitive to growth at low temperatures.

The 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.
The Impact: 
  • 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.
  • The authors aimed to quantify the sensitivity of leaf photosynthesis to temperature and improve the representation of component processes in models of the Arctic carbon cycle.


Rogers, A., Serbin, S.P., Ely, K.S. and Wullschleger, S.D., 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.

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. Field measurements of p


Alistair Rogers
Brookhaven National Laboratory