Photosynthesis Research (v.101, #1)

Minimal genomes, maximal productivity: comparative genomics of the photosystem and light-harvesting complexes in the marine cyanobacterium, Prochlorococcus by Claire S. Ting; Meghan E. Ramsey; Yvette L. Wang; Alana M. Frost; Esther Jun; Timothy Durham (1-19).
Although Prochlorococcus isolates possess the smallest genomes of any extant photosynthetic organism, this genus numerically dominates vast regions of the world’s subtropical and tropical open oceans and has evolved to become an important contributor to global biogeochemical cycles. The sequencing of 12 Prochlorococcus genomes provides a glimpse of the extensive genetic heterogeneity and, thus, physiological potential of the lineage. In this study, we present an up-to-date comparative analysis of major proteins of the photosynthetic apparatus in 12 Prochlorococcus genomes. Our analyses reveal a striking diversity within the Prochlorococcus lineage in the major protein complexes of the photosynthetic apparatus. The heterogeneity that has evolved in the photosynthetic apparatus suggests versatility in strategies for optimizing photosynthesis under conditions of environmental variability and stress. This diversity could be particularly important in ensuring the survival of a lineage whose individuals have evolved minimal genomes and, thus, relatively limited repertoires for responding to environmental challenges.
Keywords: Chlorophyll b-containing cyanobacteria; Environmental stress; Genomic diversity; Global comparative genomics; Oxychlorobacteria; Pcb light-harvesting antenna

Mutational analysis of three bchH paralogs in (bacterio-)chlorophyll biosynthesis in Chlorobaculum tepidum by Aline Gomez Maqueo Chew; Niels-Ulrik Frigaard; Donald A. Bryant (21-34).
The first committed step in the biosynthesis of (bacterio-)chlorophyll is the insertion of Mg2+ into protoporphyrin IX by Mg-chelatase. In all known (B)Chl-synthesizing organisms, Mg-chelatase is encoded by three genes that are homologous to bchH, bchD, and bchI of Rhodobacter spp. The genomes of all sequenced strains of green sulfur bacteria (Chlorobi) encode multiple bchH paralogs, and in the genome of Chlorobaculum tepidum, there are three bchH paralogs, denoted CT1295 (bchT), CT1955 (bchS), and CT1957 (bchH). Cba. tepidum mutants lacking one or two of these paralogs were constructed and characterized. All of the mutants lacking only one of these BchH homologs, as well as bchS bchT and bchH bchT double mutants, which can only produce BchH or BchS, respectively, were viable. However, attempts to construct a bchH bchS double mutant, in which only BchT was functional, were consistently unsuccessful. This result suggested that BchT alone is unable to support the minimal (B)Chl synthesis requirements of cells required for viability. The pigment compositions of the various mutant strains varied significantly. The BChl c content of the bchS mutant was only ~10% of that of the wild type, and this mutant excreted large amounts of protoporphyrin IX into the growth medium. The observed differences in BChl c production of the mutant strains were consistent with the hypothesis that the three BchH homologs function in end product regulation and/or substrate channeling of intermediates in the BChl c biosynthetic pathway.
Keywords: Chlorophyll; Bacteriochlorophyll; Mg-chelatase; Protoporphyrin IX; Chlorobaculum tepidum ; Green sulfur bacteria

Equilibration kinetics in isolated and membrane-bound photosynthetic reaction centers upon illumination: a method to determine the photoexcitation rate by Anthony J. Manzo; Alexander O. Goushcha; Yuri M. Barabash; Valery N. Kharkyanen; Gary W. Scott (35-45).
Kinetics of electron transfer, following variation of actinic light intensity, for photosynthetic reaction centers (RCs) of purple bacteria (isolated and membrane-bound) were analyzed by measuring absorbance changes in the primary photoelectron donor absorption band at 865 nm. The bleaching of the primary photoelectron donor absorption band in RCs, following a sudden increase of illumination from the dark to an actinic light intensity of I exp, obeys a simple exponential law with the rate constant $$ (alpha I_{exp } ; + ;k_{ ext{rec}} ) $$ , in which α is a parameter relating the light intensity, measured in mW/cm2, to a corresponding theoretical rate in units of reciprocal seconds, and k rec is the effective rate constant of the charge recombination in the photosynthetic RCs. In this work, a method for determining the α parameter value is developed and experimentally verified for isolated and membrane-bound RCs, allowing for rigorous modeling of RC macromolecule dynamics under varied photoexcitation conditions. Such modeling is necessary for RCs due to alterations of the forward photoexcitation rates and relaxation rates caused by illumination history and intramolecular structural dynamics effects. It is demonstrated that the classical Bouguer–Lambert–Beer formalism can be applied for the samples with relatively low scattering, which is not necessarily the case with strongly scattering media or high light intensity excitation.
Keywords: Rhodobacter sphaeroides ; Reaction center; Electron transfer; Excitation rate

We developed here the quantitative and objective method to analyze chlorophyll fluorescence from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 in the aim of systematic examination of gene function. The overall similarity of the chlorophyll fluorescence induction kinetics was evaluated for 499 mutants. Mutants of 333 genes showed the difference in the fluorescence kinetics from that of wild type, indicating the wide interaction of photosynthesis with other metabolisms. Hierarchical clustering of the similarity of the mutants enables us to group together the mutants having defect in the regulation of photosystem stoichiometry as well as those having defects in respiration or other functions. Furthermore, wild-type cells treated with inhibitors of respiration and mutants of genes involved in respiration shared similar induction kinetics. Apparently, quantitative comparison of the induction kinetics could be useful to analyze the function of genes as well as to predict the target sites of various chemicals.
Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; Induction curve; Cyanobacteria; Function of gene; Mutant library

The sun’s spectrum harvested through photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for life on earth. Plants, green algae, and cyanobacteria—the major primary producers on earth—utilize reaction centers that operate at wavelengths of 680 and 700 nm. Why were these wavelengths “chosen” in evolution? This study analyzes the efficiency of light conversion into chemical energy as a function of hypothetical reaction center absorption wavelengths given the sun’s spectrum and the overpotential cost associated with charge separation. Surprisingly, it is found here that when taking into account the empirical charge separation cost the range 680–720 nm maximizes the conversion efficiency. This suggests the possibility that the wavelengths of photosystem I and II were optimized at some point in their evolution for the maximal utilization of the sun’s spectrum.
Keywords: Reaction center; Optimality; Spectrum; Efficiency; Chlorophyll

Chromatic photoacclimation and photosynthesis were examined in two strains of Acaryochloris marina (MBIC11017 and CCMEE5410) and in Synechococcus PCC7942. Acaryochloris contains Chl d, which has an absorption peak at ca 710 nm in vivo. Cultures were grown in one of the three wavelengths (525 nm, 625 nm and 720 nm) of light from narrow-band photodiodes to determine the effects on pigment composition, growth rate and photosynthesis: no growth occurred in 525 nm light. Synechococcus did not grow in 720 nm light because Chl a does not absorb effectively at this long wavelength. Acaryochloris did grow in 720 nm light, although strain MBIC11017 showed a decrease in phycobilins over time. Both Synechococcus and Acaryochloris MBIC11017 showed a dramatic increase in phycobilin content when grown in 625 nm light. Acaryochloris CCMEE5410, which lacks phycobilins, would not grow satisfactorily under 625 nm light. The cells adjusted their pigment composition in response to the light spectral conditions under which they were grown. Photoacclimation and the Q y peak of Chl d could be understood in terms of the ecological niche of Acaryochloris, i.e. habitats enriched in near infrared radiation.
Keywords: Acaryochloris marina ; Chlorophyll d ; Pigment accumulation; Light-adaptation; Photosynthesis

Alternative methods for sampling and preservation of photosynthetic pigments and tocopherols in plant material from remote locations by Raquel Esteban; Luis Balaguer; Esteban Manrique; Rafael Rubio de Casas; Raúl Ochoa; Isabel Fleck; Marta Pintó-Marijuan; Isidre Casals; Domingo Morales; María Soledad Jiménez; Roberto Lorenzo; Unai Artetxe; José María Becerril; José Ignacio García-Plazaola (77-88).
Current methods for the study of pigments involve freezing in liquid nitrogen and storage at −80°C or lyophilization until HPLC analysis. These requirements greatly restrict ecophysiological research in remote areas where such resources are hardly available. We aimed to overcome such limitations by developing several techniques not requiring freezing or lyophilization. Two species with contrasting foliar characteristics (Olea europaea and Taraxacum officinale) were chosen. Seven preservation methods were designed, optimized and tested in a field trial. These protocols were compared with a control immediately frozen after collection. Pigments and tocopherols were analysed by HPLC. Main artefacts were chlorophyll epimerization or phaeophytinization, carotenoid isomerization, altered de-epoxidation index and tocopherol degradation. Among all methods, sample desiccation in silica gel provides robust samples (pigment composition was unaffected by storage time or temperature) and almost unaltered pigment profiles, except for a shift in epoxidation state. Although liquid nitrogen freezing and subsequent lyophilization or freezer storage were preferred, when these facilities are either not available or not suitable for long-distance transport, desiccation with silica gel, passive extraction in acetone and/or storage of fresh samples in water vapour saturated atmospheres enable a complete pigment characterization. Silica gel is advisable for long-term sample conservation.
Keywords: HPLC; Liquid nitrogen; Lyophilization; Silica gel; Xanthophylls