This study tests the hypothesis that red-leaved gametophytes of the liverwort Jamesoniella colorata (Lehm.) Schiffn., which are found in relatively dry habitats, are more desiccation tolerant than their green counterparts, which are found in moister environments, through superior photoprotective systems. The potential role of red foliar pigments in relation to water deficits is investigated by measuring cell water-relations, oxidative damage and photosynthetic responses. The presence of red pigments, or other cellular constituents, did not affect cell water-relations during dehydration and thus appear not to be involved in cell osmotic regulation. During drying, both colour morphs showed a similar non-photochemical quenching activity and did not experience significant oxidative damage, as measured by the amounts of ascorbate, malondialdehyde and photosynthetic pigments. However, the levels of oxidative damage increased directly upon rewetting the gametophytes, especially in low light conditions (25 µmol m(-2) s(-1)). The efficiency of photosystem II only recovered partially after severe water deficits in both phenotypes. However, the red gametophytes recovered faster and more completely from mild water deficits than did the greens. Moreover, they experienced significantly less photobleaching after rehydration in low light. It is suggested that red pigments and/or carotenoids in these gametophytes improve desiccation tolerance by alleviating photooxidative damage.
2008. Vol. 227, no 6, 1301-10 p.