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Beyond a single temperature threshold: applying a cumulative thermal stress framework to plant heat tolerance
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  • Alicia Cook,
  • Enrico Rezende,
  • Katherina Petrou,
  • Andrea Leigh
Alicia Cook
University of Technology Sydney

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Enrico Rezende
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
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Katherina Petrou
University of Technology Sydney
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Andrea Leigh
University of Technology Sydney
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Most plant thermal tolerance studies focus on single critical thresholds, which limit the capacity to generalise across studies and predict heat stress under natural conditions. In animals and microbes, thermal tolerance landscapes describe the more realistic, cumulative effects of temperature. We tested this in plants by measuring the decline in leaf photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM) following a combination of temperatures and exposure times, then modelled these physiological indices alongside recorded environmental temperatures. We demonstrate that a general relationship between stressful temperatures and exposure durations can be effectively employed to quantify and compare heat tolerance within and across plant species and over time. Importantly, we show how FV/FM curves translate to plants under natural conditions, suggesting that environmental temperatures often impair photosynthetic function. Our findings provide more robust descriptors of heat tolerance in plants and suggest that heat tolerance in disparate groups of organisms can be studied with a single predictive framework.
Submitted to Ecology Letters
26 Feb 2024Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Feb 2024Editorial Decision: Accept