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Concept: Light-dependent reactions


The effects of exposure to increasing manganese concentrations (50-1500 µM) from the start of the experiment on the functional performance of photosystem II (PSII) and photosystem I (PSI) and photosynthetic apparatus composition of Arabidopsis thaliana were compared. In agreement with earlier studies, excess Mn caused minimal changes in the PSII photochemical efficiency measured as F(v)/F(m), although the characteristic peak temperature of the S(2/3)Q(B)(-) charge recombinations was shifted to lower temperatures at the highest Mn concentration. SDS-PAGE and immunoblot analyses also did not exhibit any significant change in the relative abundance of PSII-associated polypeptides: PSII reaction centre protein D1, Lhcb1 (major light-harvesting protein of LHCII complex), and PsbO (OEC33, a 33kDa protein of the oxygen-evolving complex). In addition, the abundance of Rubisco also did not change with Mn treatments. However, plants grown under excess Mn exhibited increased susceptibility to PSII photoinhibition. In contrast, in vivo measurements of the redox transients of PSI reaction centre (P700) showed a considerable gradual decrease in the extent of P700 photooxidation (P700(+)) under increased Mn concentrations compared to control. This was accompanied by a slower rate of P700(+) re-reduction indicating a downregulation of the PSI-dependent cyclic electron flow. The abundance of PSI reaction centre polypeptides (PsaA and PsaB) in plants under the highest Mn concentration was also significantly lower compared to the control. The results demonstrate for the first time that PSI is the major target of Mn toxicity within the photosynthetic apparatus of Arabidopsis plants. The possible involvement mechanisms of Mn toxicity targeting specifically PSI are discussed.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Arabidopsis, Photosystem, Light reactions, Photosystem I, Photosystem II, Oxygen evolution, Light-dependent reactions


While photosystem II (PSII) of plants utilizes light for photosynthesis, part of the absorbed energy may be reverted back and dissipated as long-term fluorescence (delayed fluorescence or DF). Because the generation of DF is coupled with the processes of forward photosynthetic activities, DF contains the information about plant physiological states and plant-environment interactions. This makes DF a potentially powerful biosensing mechanism to measure plant photosynthetic activities and environmental conditions. While DF has attracted the interest of many researchers, some aspects of it are still unknown because of the complexity of photosynthetic system. In order to provide a holistic picture about the usefulness of DF, it is meaningful to summarize the research on DF applications. In this short review, available literature on applications of DF from PSII is summarized.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Plant, Photosystem, Chlorophyll, Photosystem II, Oxygen evolution, Light-dependent reactions


The machinery that conducts the light-driven reactions of oxygenic photosynthesis is hosted within specialized paired membranes called thylakoids. In higher plants, the thylakoids are segregated into two morphological and functional domains called grana and stroma lamellae. A large fraction of the luminal volume of the granal thylakoids is occupied by the oxygen-evolving complex of photosystem II. Electron microscopy data we obtained on dark- and light-adapted Arabidopsis thylakoids indicate that the granal thylakoid lumen significantly expands in the light. Models generated for the organization of the oxygen-evolving complex within the granal lumen predict that the light-induced expansion greatly alleviates restrictions imposed on protein diffusion in this compartment in the dark. Experiments monitoring the redox kinetics of the luminal electron carrier plastocyanin support this prediction. The impact of the increase in protein mobility within the granal luminal compartment in the light on photosynthetic electron transport rates and processes associated with the repair of photodamaged photosystem II complexes is discussed.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Chloroplast, Plastocyanin, Chlorophyll, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions, ATP synthase


Thylakoid membranes, the universal structure where photosynthesis takes place in all oxygenic photosynthetic organisms from cyanobacteria to higher plants, have a unique lipid composition. They contain a high fraction of 2 uncharged glycolipids, the galactoglycerolipids mono- and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG and DGDG, respectively), and an anionic sulfolipid, sulfoquinovosediacylglycerol (SQDG). A remarkable feature of the evolution from cyanobacteria to higher plants is the conservation of MGDG, DGDG, SQDG, and phosphatidylglycerol (PG), the major phospholipid of thylakoids. Using neutron diffraction on reconstituted thylakoid lipid extracts, we observed that the thylakoid lipid mixture self-organizes as a regular stack of bilayers. This natural lipid mixture was shown to switch from hexagonal II toward lamellar phase on hydration. This transition and the observed phase coexistence are modulated by the fine-tuning of the lipid profile, in particular the MGDG/DGDG ratio, and by the hydration. Our analysis highlights the critical role of DGDG as a contributing component to the membrane stacking via hydrogen bonds between polar heads of adjacent bilayers. DGDG interactions balance the repulsive electrostatic contribution of the charged lipids PG and SQDG and allow the persistence of regularly stacked membranes at high hydration. In developmental contexts or in response to environmental variations, these properties can contribute to the highly dynamic flexibility of plastid structure.-Demé, B., Cataye, C., Block, M. A., Maréchal, E., Jouhet, J. Contribution of galactoglycerolipids to the 3-dimensional architecture of thylakoids.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Chloroplast, Plant, Lipids, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions, ATP synthase


The oxygen in our atmosphere is derived and maintained by the water-splitting process of photosynthesis. The enzyme that facilitates this reaction and therefore underpins virtually all life on our planet is known as photosystem II (PSII), a multisubunit enzyme embedded in the lipid environment of the thylakoid membranes of plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. During the past 10 years, crystal structures of a 700-kDa cyanobacterial dimeric PSII complex have been reported with ever-increasing improvement in resolution-the latest at 1.9 Å. Thus, the organizational and structural details of its many subunits and cofactors are now well understood. The water-splitting site was revealed as a cluster of four Mn ions and one Ca ion surrounded by amino-acid side chains, of which seven provide ligands to the metals. The metal cluster is organized as a cubane-like structure composed of three Mn ions and the one Ca(2+) ion linked by oxo bonds. The fourth Mn is attached to the cubane via one of its bridging oxygens together with another oxo bridge to an Mn ion of the cubane. The overall structure of the catalytic site provides a framework to propose a mechanistic scheme for the water-splitting process and gives a blueprint for the development of catalysts that mimick the reaction in an artificial chemical system as a means to generate solar fuels.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Metabolism, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Solid, Photosystem, Light-dependent reactions


The thylakoid-transfer signal is required for energy-dependent translocation of preproteins into the thylakoid lumen and is removed by the thylakoidal processing peptidase (TPP). PGRL1 is an essential component of antimycin A-sensitive photosynthetic cyclic electron flow in chloroplasts. Here we report that one of the TPP isoforms, Plsp1, forms a stable complex with PGRL1. Genetic data demonstrate that PGRL1 is not essential for Plsp1 activity in vivo, leading to a possibility that PGRL1 may act as a regulator of TPP. STRUCTURED SUMMARY OF PROTEIN INTERACTIONS:: PLSP1physically interactswithPGRL1Bbypull down(View interaction) PLSP1physically interactswithPGRL1B,PGRL1AandCASbypull down(View interaction).

Concepts: DNA, Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Chloroplast, Emergence, Chlorophyll, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions


Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) is the most abundant lipid component of the thylakoid membrane. Although MGDG is believed to be important in sustaining the structure and function of the photosynthetic membrane, its exact role in photosynthesis in vivo requires further investigation. In this study, the transgenic tobacco plant M18, which has an MGDG deficiency of approximately 53%, and which contains many fewer thylakoid membranes and exhibits retarded growth and a chlorotic phenotype, was used to investigate the role of MGDG. Chlorophyll fluorescence analysis of the M18 line revealed that PSII activity was inhibited when the plants were exposed to light. The inactive linear electron transport found in M18 plants was mainly attributed to a block in the intersystem electron transport process that was revealed by P700 redox kinetics and PSI light response analysis. Immunoblotting and Blue Native SDS-PAGE analysis suggested that a reduction in the accumulation of cytochrome b6f in M18 plants is a direct structural effect of MGDG deficiency, and this is likely to be responsible for the inefficiency observed in intersystem electron transport. Although drastic impairments of PSII subunits were detected in M18 plants grown under normal conditions, further investigations of low-light-grown M18 plants indicated that the impairments are not direct structural effects. Instead, they are likely to result from the cumulative photodamage that occurs due to impaired photostability under long-term exposure to relatively high light levels. The study suggests that MGDG plays important roles in maintaining both the linear electron transport process and the photostability of the PSII apparatus.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Chloroplast, Plant, Photosystem, Chlorophyll, Plastoquinone, Light-dependent reactions


Plants are sessile organisms and need to acclimate to ever-changing light conditions in order to survive. These changes trigger a dynamic reorganization of the membrane protein complexes in the thylakoid membranes. Photosystem II (PSII) and its light harvesting system (LHCII) are the major target of this acclimation response, and accumulating evidences indicate that the amount and composition of PSII-LHCII supercomplexes in thylakoids are dynamically adjusted in response to changes in light intensity and quality. In this study, we characterized the PSII-LHCII supercomplexes in thylakoid membranes of pea plants in response to long-term acclimation to different light intensities. We provide evidence of a reorganization of the PSII-LHCII supercomplexes showing distinct changes in their antenna moiety. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed a specific reduction of Lhcb3, Lhcb6 and M-LHCII trimers bound to the PSII cores, while the Lhcb4.3 isoform increased in response to high light intensities. The modulation of Lhcb protein content correlates with the reduction of the functional PSII antenna size. These results suggest that the Lhcb3, Lhcb4.3 and Lhcb6 antenna subunits are major players in modulation of the PSII antenna size upon long-term acclimation to increased light levels. PsbS was not detected in the isolated PSII-LHCII supercomplexes at any light condition, despite an increased accumulation in thylakoids of high light acclimated plants, suggesting that PsbS is not a constitutive component of PSII-LHCII supercomplexes.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Mass spectrometry, Photosystem, Chlorophyll, Plastoquinone, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions, ATP synthase


Enhanced light harvesting is an area of interest for optimizing both natural photosynthesis and artificial solar energy capture(1,2). Iridescence has been shown to exist widely and in diverse forms in plants and other photosynthetic organisms and symbioses(3,4), but there has yet to be any direct link demonstrated between iridescence and photosynthesis. Here we show that epidermal chloroplasts, also known as iridoplasts, in shade-dwelling species of Begonia(5), notable for their brilliant blue iridescence, have a photonic crystal structure formed from a periodic arrangement of the light-absorbing thylakoid tissue itself. This structure enhances photosynthesis in two ways: by increasing light capture at the predominantly green wavelengths available in shade conditions, and by directly enhancing quantum yield by 5-10% under low-light conditions. These findings together imply that the iridoplast is a highly modified chloroplast structure adapted to make best use of the extremely low-light conditions in the tropical forest understorey in which it is found(5,6). A phylogenetically diverse range of shade-dwelling plant species has been found to produce similarly structured chloroplasts(7-9), suggesting that the ability to produce chloroplasts whose membranes are organized as a multilayer with photonic properties may be widespread. In fact, given the well-established diversity and plasticity of chloroplasts(10,11), our results imply that photonic effects may be important even in plants that do not show any obvious signs of iridescence to the naked eye but where a highly ordered chloroplast structure may present a clear blue reflectance at the microscale. Chloroplasts are generally thought of as purely photochemical; we suggest that one should also think of them as a photonic structure with a complex interplay between control of light propagation, light capture and photochemistry.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Eukaryote, Chloroplast, Plant, Chlorophyll, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions


The intricate molecular processes underlying photosynthesis have long been studied using various analytic approaches. However, the three-dimensional (3D) dynamics of such photosynthetic processes remain unexplored due to technological limitations related to investigating intraorganellar mechanisms in vivo. By developing a system for high-speed 3D laser scanning confocal microscopy combined with high-sensitivity multiple-channel detection, we visualized excitation energy dynamics in thylakoid structures within chloroplasts of live Physcomitrella patens cells. Two distinct thylakoid structures in the chloroplast, namely the grana and stroma lamellae, were visualized three-dimensionally in live cells. The simultaneous detection of the shorter (than ~670 nm) and longer (than ~680 nm) wavelength regions of chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence reveals different spatial characteristics-irregular and vertical structures, respectively. Spectroscopic analyses showed that the shorter and longer wavelength regions of Chl fluorescence are affected more by free light-harvesting antenna proteins and photosystem II supercomplexes, respectively. The high-speed 3D time-lapse imaging of the shorter and longer wavelength regions also reveals different structural dynamics-rapid and slow movements within 1.5 seconds, respectively. Such structural dynamics of the two wavelength regions of Chl fluorescence would indicate excitation energy dynamics between light-harvesting antenna proteins and photosystems, reflecting the energetically active nature of photosynthetic proteins in thylakoid membranes.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Chloroplast, Plant, Photosystem, Chlorophyll, Thylakoid, Light-dependent reactions