Rice is believed to show photosynthetic symmetry between adaxial and abaxial leaf sides. To verify this, we re-examined dorsoventral asymmetry in photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence and anatomical traits in flag leaves of two Oryza sativa cultivars that differ in nitrogen (N) response and in leaf angle: 'Akenohoshi', a cultivar that can adapt to low-N (LN), with low leaf angle (more erect leaves), and 'Shirobeniya', a cultivar that is unable to adapt to LN, with higher leaf angle. Plants were grown under standard-N (SN) and LN conditions. LN leaves of both cultivars became more erect than SN, but LN Akenohoshi still had more erect ones than Shirobeniya. Contrary to results of previous studies, leaves of both cultivars showed an asymmetry in photosynthetic rate between adaxial and abaxial sides (higher on the adaxial side) under SN. SN leaves of both cultivars showed lower susceptibility to photoinhibition on the adaxial side than on the abaxial side. However, leaves of Akenohoshi showed less asymmetry in these traits under LN than under SN, whereas leaves of Shirobeniya had similar degrees of asymmetry in these traits under both SN and LN. Both cultivars also showed dorsoventral asymmetry in anatomical traits of mesophyll tissue regardless of N level, but the degree of asymmetry was lower in LN Akenohoshi. These data reveal that rice leaves exhibit dorsoventral asymmetry in photosynthetic and anatomical features, and that the degree of asymmetry varies with cultivar and N level. It is suggested that lower leaf angles (particularly in Akenohoshi) in the presence of LN represent a light acclimation to prevent photoinhibition.
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