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Concept: Photosystem


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


Based on previous comparative genomic analyses, a set of nearly 600 polypeptides, of which ~300 have unknown physiological function, was identified that is present in green algae and flowering and nonflowering plants, but not present (or highly diverged) in non-photosynthetic organisms. The gene encoding one of these GreenCut proteins, CPLD38, is in the same operon as ndhL in most cyanobacteria; NdhL is part of a complex essential for cyanobacterial respiration. A cpld38 mutant of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii did not grow on minimal medium, was high light sensitive under photoheterotrophic conditions, had lower accumulation of photosynthetic complexes, reduced photosynthetic electron flow to P700+, and reduced photochemical efficiency of photosystem II; these phenotypes were rescued by a wild-type copy of CPLD38. Biophysical and biochemical analyses demonstrated that cytochrome b6f function was severely compromised, and levels of transcripts and polypeptide subunits associated with the cytochrome b6f complex were also significantly lower in the mutant; the subunits of the cytochrome b6f complex turned over much more rapidly in mutant than in wild-type cells. Interestingly, PTOX2 and NDA2, two major proteins involved in chlororespiration, were more than 5-fold higher in mutant relative to wild-type cells, suggesting a shift from photosynthesis toward chlororespiratory metabolism in mutant cells, which is supported by experiments that quantify the reduction state of the plastoquinone pool. These findings support the hypothesis that CPLD38 impacts the stability of the cytochrome b6f complex and may play a key role in balancing redox inputs to the quinone pool from photosynthesis and chlororespiration.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Protein, Gene, Carbon dioxide, Photosystem, Plastocyanin, Plastoquinone


Iron is an essential component in many protein complexes involved in photosynthesis, but environmental iron availability is often low as oxidized forms of iron are insoluble in water. To adjust to low environmental iron levels, cyanobacteria undergo numerous changes to balance their iron budget and mitigate the physiological effects of iron depletion. We investigated changes in key protein abundances and photophysiological parameters in the model cyanobacteria Synechococcus PCC 7942 and Synechocystis PCC 6803 over a 120 hour time course of iron deprivation. The iron stress induced protein (IsiA) accumulated to high levels within 48 h of the onset of iron deprivation, reaching a molar ratio of ∼42 IsiA : Photosystem I in Synechococcus PCC 7942 and ∼12 IsiA : Photosystem I in Synechocystis PCC 6803. Concomitantly the iron-rich complexes Cytochrome b6f and Photosystem I declined in abundance, leading to a decrease in the Photosystem I : Photosystem II ratio. Chlorophyll fluorescence analyses showed a drop in electron transport per Photosystem II in Synechococcus, but not in Synechocystis after iron depletion. We found no evidence that the accumulated IsiA contributes to light capture by Photosystem II complexes.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Iron, Photosystem, Light reactions, Plastocyanin


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


Insufficient water availability for crop production is a mounting barrier to achieving the 70% increase in food production that will be needed by 2050. One solution is to develop crops that require less water per unit mass of production. Water vapor transpires from leaves through stomata, which also facilitate the influx of CO2during photosynthetic assimilation. Here, we hypothesize that Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS) expression affects a chloroplast-derived signal for stomatal opening in response to light, which can be used to improve water-use efficiency. Transgenic tobacco plants with a range of PsbS expression, from undetectable to 3.7 times wild-type are generated. Plants with increased PsbS expression show less stomatal opening in response to light, resulting in a 25% reduction in water loss per CO2assimilated under field conditions. Since the role of PsbS is universal across higher plants, this manipulation should be effective across all crops.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Water, Photosystem, Plant physiology, Fern, Leaf, Chlorophyll


Global estimates of terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) remain highly uncertain, despite decades of satellite measurements and intensive in situ monitoring. We report a new approach for quantifying the near-infrared reflectance of terrestrial vegetation (NIRV). NIRV provides a foundation for a new approach to estimate GPP that consistently untangles the confounding effects of background brightness, leaf area, and the distribution of photosynthetic capacity with depth in canopies using existing moderate spatial and spectral resolution satellite sensors. NIRV is strongly correlated with solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence, a direct index of photons intercepted by chlorophyll, and with site-level and globally gridded estimates of GPP. NIRV makes it possible to use existing and future reflectance data as a starting point for accurately estimating GPP.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Plant, Photosystem, Leaf, Chlorophyll, Primary production, Chemosynthesis


Photosynthesis powers life on our planet. The basic photosynthetic architecture consists of antenna complexes that harvest solar energy and reaction centres that convert the energy into stable separated charge. In oxygenic photosynthesis, the initial charge separation occurs in the photosystem II reaction centre, the only known natural enzyme that uses solar energy to split water. Both energy transfer and charge separation in photosynthesis are rapid events with high quantum efficiencies. In recent nonlinear spectroscopic experiments, long-lived coherences have been observed in photosynthetic antenna complexes, and theoretical work suggests that they reflect underlying electronic-vibrational resonances, which may play a functional role in enhancing energy transfer. Here, we report the observation of coherent dynamics persisting on a picosecond timescale at 77 K in the photosystem II reaction centre using two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy. Supporting simulations suggest that the coherences are of a mixed electronic-vibrational (vibronic) nature and may enhance the rate of charge separation in oxygenic photosynthesis.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Scientific method, Oxygen, Physics, Sun, Photosystem, Nature, Oxygen evolution


Calcium manganese oxide nanoparticles for application in water oxidation are synthesized by combination with a carboxylated biopolymer stabilizing agent to form very simple but effective analogues of the photosynthetic PSII oxygen evolving complex. The relative efficiency of these materials for production of O(2) and protons under visible light-promoted reactions is evaluated and prolonged reaction lifetimes are observed.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Aluminium, Oxide, Photosystem, Oxygen evolution, Manganese


Recent structural determinations and metagenomic studies shed light on the evolution of photosystem I (PSI) from the homodimeric reaction centre of primitive bacteria to plant PSI at the top of the evolutionary development. The evolutionary scenario of over 3.5 billion years reveals an increase in the complexity of PSI. This phenomenon of ever-increasing complexity is common to all evolutionary processes that in their advanced stages are highly dependent on fine-tuning of regulatory processes. On the other hand, the recently discovered virus-encoded PSI complexes contain a minimal number of subunits. This may reflect the unique selection scenarios associated with viral replication. It may be beneficial for future engineering of productive processes to utilize ‘primitive’ complexes that disregard the cellular regulatory processes and to avoid those regulatory constraints when our goal is to divert the process from its original route. In this article, we discuss the evolutionary forces that act on viral reaction centres and the role of the virus-carried photosynthetic genes in the evolution of photosynthesis.

Concepts: Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Archaea, Bacteria, Evolution, Life, Photosystem, Photosystem I


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