The developmental responses of papaya leaves to simulated canopy shade

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The developmental responses of plants to shade underneath foliage are influenced by reductions in irradiance and shifts in spectral quality (characterized by reductions in the quantum ratio of red to far-red wavelengths, R:FR). Previous research on the influence of shadelight on leaf development has neglected the reductions in R:FR characteristic of foliage shade, and these studies have almost certainly underestimated the extent and array of developmental responses to foliage shade. We have studied the effects of reduced irradiance and R:FR on the leaf development of papaya (Carica papaya L., Caricaceae). Using experimental shadehouses, replicates of plants grown in high light conditions (0.20 of sunlight and R:FR = 0.90) were compared to low light conditions (0.02 of sunlight) with either the spectral quality of sunlight (R:FR = 0.99) or of foliage shade (F:FR = 0.26). Although many characteristics, such as leaf thickness, specific leaf weight, stomatal density, palisade parenchyma cell shape, and the ratio of mesophyll air surface/leaf surface were affected by reductions in irradiance, reduced R:FR contributed to further changes. Some characters, such as reduced chlorophyll a/b ratios, reduced lobing, and greater internode length, were affected primarily by low R:FR. The reduced R:FR of foliage shade, presumably affecting phytochrome equilibrium, strongly influences the morphology and anatomy of papaya leaves.

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