Rainha, N., Medeiros, V.P., Câmara, M., Faustino, H., Leite, J.P., Barreto, M.C., Cruz, C., Pacheco, C.A., Ponte, D. & Bernardes da Silva, A. (2016) Plasticity of crassulacean acid metabolism at subtropical latitudes: the pineapple case study.Physiologia Plantarum, 156(1), 29-39. DOI:10.1111/ppl.12386 (IF2015 3,520; Q1 Plant Sciences)
Plants with the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) express high metabolic plasticity, to adjust to environmental stresses. This manuscript hypothesizes that irradiance and nocturnal temperatures are the major limitations for CAM at higher latitudes such as the Azores (37°45'N). Circadian CAM expression in Ananas comosus L. Merr. (pineapple) was assessed by the diurnal pattern of leaf carbon fixation into L-malate at the solstices and equinoxes, and confirmed by determining maximal phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase activity in plant material. Metabolic adjustments to environmental conditions were confirmed by gas exchange measurements, and integrated with environmental data to determine CAM's limiting factors: light and temperature. CAM plasticity was observed at the equinoxes, under similar photoperiods, but different environmental conditions. In spring, CAM expression was similar between vegetative and flowering plants, while in autumn, flowering (before anthesis) and fructifying (with fully develop fruit before ripening) plants accumulated more L-malate. Below 100 µmol m-2 s-1, CAM phase I was extended, reducing CAM phase III during the day. Carbon fixation inhibition may occur by two major pathways: nocturnal temperature (<15°C) inhibiting PEPC activity and L-malate accumulation; and low irradiance influencing the interplay between CAM phase I and III, affecting carboxylation and decarboxylation. Both have important consequences for plant development in autumn and winter. Observations were confirmed by flowering time prediction using environmental data, emphasizing that CAM expression had a strong seasonal regulation due to a complex network response to light and temperature, allowing pineapple to survive in environments not suitable for high productivity.