Photosynthesis Research (v.128, #2)

Vallabhaneni Sita Rama Das, 1933–2010: teacher and mentor by Sailaja V. Elchuri; Govindjee (109-115).
We present here the life and research of V. S. Rama Das, a distinguished Indian botanist who specialized in photosynthesis. He was the first to purify chloroplasts that were free of mitochondrial contamination. He then studied C4, C3–C4 intermediate and CAM pathways, as well as their taxonomic distribution in tropical climates. His most valuable legacy is that he, as a philosopher, inspired and guided many students to pursue their research career in India. Also see Narayana and Pullaiah (Eminent Indian Botanists: Past and present: Biographies and contributions, pp 394–401, 2010) and Raghavendra and Reddy (Curr Sci 101:798–799, 2011) for further information on Rama Das.
Keywords: C4 metabolism; C3–C4 intermediate pathway; Taxonomy; Light response; Daniel Arnon; W. O. James

We pay tribute to Hartmut Lichtenthaler for making important contributions to the field of photosynthesis research. He was recently recognized for ground-breaking discoveries in chloroplast structure and isoprenoid biochemistry by the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR; http://vlpbp.org/ ), receiving a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award for Photosynthesis. The ceremony, held in Champaign, Illinois, was attended by many prominent researchers in the photosynthesis field. We provide below a brief note on his education, and then describe some of the areas in which Hartmut Lichtenthaler has been a pioneer.
Keywords: Melvin Calvin; Isoprenoids; Phylloquinone; Plastoglobuli; MEP pathway

Little was known on how sunlight affects the seed metabolism in nongreen seeds. Castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) is a typical nongreen oilseed crop and its seed oil is an important feedstock in industry. In this study, photosynthetic activity of seed coat tissues of castor bean in natural conditions was evaluated in comparison to shaded conditions. Our results indicate that exposure to high light enhances photosynthetic activity in seed coats and consequently increases oil accumulation. Consistent results were also reached using cultured seeds. High-throughput RNA-Seq analyses further revealed that genes involved in photosynthesis and carbon conversion in both the Calvin–Benson cycle and malate transport were differentially expressed between seeds cultured under light and dark conditions, implying several venues potentially contributing to light-enhanced lipid accumulation such as increased reducing power and CO2 refixation which underlie the overall lipid biosynthesis. This study demonstrated the effects of light exposure on oil accumulation in nongreen oilseeds and greatly expands our understanding of the physiological roles that light may play during seed development in nongreen oilseeds. Essentially, our studies suggest that potential exists to enhance castor oil yield through increasing exposure of the inflorescences to sunlight either by genetically changing the plant architecture (smart canopy) or its growing environment.
Keywords: Castor bean; Nongreen oilseed; Light exposure; Oil accumulation; Seed coat

Natural isoforms of the Photosystem II D1 subunit differ in photoassembly efficiency of the water-oxidizing complex by David J. Vinyard; Jennifer S. Sun; Javier Gimpel; Gennady M. Ananyev; Stephen P. Mayfield; G. Charles Dismukes (141-150).
Oxygenic photosynthesis efficiency at increasing solar flux is limited by light-induced damage (photoinhibition) of Photosystem II (PSII), primarily targeting the D1 reaction center subunit. Some cyanobacteria contain two natural isoforms of D1 that function better under low light (D1:1) or high light (D1:2). Herein, rates and yields of photoassembly of the Mn4CaO5 water-oxidizing complex (WOC) from the free inorganic cofactors (Mn2+, Ca2+, water, electron acceptor) and apo-WOC-PSII are shown to differ significantly: D1:1 apo-WOC-PSII exhibits a 2.3-fold faster rate-limiting step of photoassembly and up to seven-fold faster rate to the first light-stable Mn3+ intermediate, IM1*, but with a much higher rate of photoinhibition than D1:2. Conversely, D1:2 apo-WOC-PSII assembles slower but has up to seven-fold higher yield, achieved by a higher quantum yield of charge separation and slower photoinhibition rate. These results confirm and extend previous observations of the two holoenzymes: D1:2-PSII has a greater quantum yield of primary charge separation, faster [P680 + Q A ] charge recombination and less photoinhibition that results in a slower rate and higher yield of photoassembly of its apo-WOC-PSII complex. In contrast, D1:1-PSII has a lower quantum yield of primary charge separation, a slower [P680 + Q A ] charge recombination rate, and faster photoinhibition that together result in higher rate but lower yield of photoassembly at higher light intensities. Cyanobacterial PSII reaction centers that contain the high- and low-light D1 isoforms can tailor performance to optimize photosynthesis at varying light conditions, with similar consequences on their photoassembly kinetics and yield. These different efficiencies of photoassembly versus photoinhibition impose differential costs for biosynthesis as a function of light intensity.
Keywords: Photosystem II; Oxygen evolution; Water-oxidizing complex; Photo-assembly; Photosynthetic efficiency

Alternative electron sinks are an important regulatory mechanism to dissipate excessively absorbed light energy particularly under fast changing dynamic light conditions. In diatoms, the cyclic electron transport (CET) around Photosystem II (PS II) is an alternative electron transport pathway (AET) that contributes to avoidance of overexcitation under high light illumination. The combination of nitrogen limitation and high-intensity irradiance regularly occurs under natural conditions and is expected to force the imbalance between light absorption and the metabolic use of light energy. The present study demonstrates that under N limitation, the amount of AET and the activity of CETPSII in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum were increased. Thereby, the activity of CETPSII was linearly correlated with the amount of AET rates. It is concluded that CETPSII significantly contributes to AET in P. tricornutum. Surprisingly, CETPSII was found to be activated already at the end of the dark period under N-limited conditions. This coincided with a significantly increased degree of reduction of the plastoquinone (PQ) pool. The analysis of the macromolecular composition of cells of P. tricornutum under N-limited conditions revealed a carbon allocation in favor of carbohydrates during the light period and their degradation during the dark phase. A possible linkage between the activity of CETPSII and degree of reduction of the PQ pool on the one side and the macromolecular changes on the other is discussed.
Keywords: Diatom; Cyclic electron transport; Non-photochemical quenching; Macromolecular composition; FTIR spectroscopy

The coupling factor CF1 is a catalytic part of chloroplast ATP synthase which is exposed to stroma whose viscosity is many-fold higher than that of reaction mixtures commonly used to measure kinetics of CF1-catalyzed ATP hydrolysis. This study is focused on the effect of medium viscosity modulated by sucrose or bovine serum albumin (BSA) on kinetics of Ca2+- and Mg2+-dependent ATP hydrolysis by CF1. These agents were shown to reduce the maximal rate of Ca2+-dependent ATPase without changing the apparent Michaelis constant (К m), thus supporting the hypothesis on viscosity dependence of CF1 activity. For the sulfite- and ethanol-stimulated Mg2+-dependent reaction, the presence of sucrose increased К m without changing the maximal rate that is many-fold as high as that of Ca2+-dependent hydrolysis. The hydrolysis reaction was shown to be stimulated by low concentrations of BSA and inhibited by its higher concentrations, with the increasing maximal reaction rate estimated by extrapolation. Sucrose- or BSA-induced inhibition of the Mg2+-dependent ATPase reaction is believed to result from diffusion-caused deceleration, while its BSA-induced stimulation is probably caused by optimization of the enzyme structure. Molecular mechanisms of the inhibitory effect of viscosity are discussed. Taking into account high protein concentrations in the chloroplast stroma, it was suggested that kinetic parameters of ATP hydrolysis, and probably those of ATP synthesis in vivo as well, must be quite different from measurements taken at a viscosity level close to that of water.
Keywords: Chloroplast coupling factor 1 (CF1); ATP hydrolysis; Viscosity

Time-resolved multi-pulse spectroscopic methods—pump–dump–probe (PDP) and femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy—were used to investigate the excited state photodynamics of the carbonyl group containing carotenoid fucoxanthin (FX). PDP experiments show that S1 and ICT states in FX are strongly coupled and that the interstate equilibrium is rapidly (<5 ps) reestablished after one of the interacting states is deliberately depopulated. Femtosecond stimulated Raman scattering experiments indicate that S1 and ICT are vibrationally distinct species. Identification of the FSRS modes on the S1 and ICT potential energy surfaces allows us to predict a possible coupling channel for the state interaction.
Keywords: Fucoxanthin; Internal charge transfer; Pump–dump–probe; Femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy; PDP; FSRS

A simple indicator for non-destructive estimation of the violaxanthin cycle pigment content in leaves by Lars Nichelmann; Matthias Schulze; Werner B. Herppich; Wolfgang Bilger (183-193).
The photosynthetic apparatus of higher plants acclimates to irradiance. Among the features which are changing is the pool size of the pigments belonging to the violaxanthin cycle, in which zeaxanthin is formed. In high light grown leaves, the violaxanthin cycle pool size is up to five times larger than in low light. The changes are reversible on a time scale of several days. Since it has been published that violaxanthin cycle pigments do not transfer absorbed energy to chlorophyll, we hypothesized that excitation of chlorophyll fluorescence in the blue spectral region may be reduced in high light-acclimated leaves. Fluorescence excitation spectra of leaves of the Arabidopsis thaliana tt3 mutant showed strong differences between high and low light-acclimated plants from 430 to 520 nm. The resulting difference spectrum was similar to carotenoids but shifted by about 20 nm to higher wavelengths. A good correlation was observed between the fluorescence excitation ratio F 470/F 660 and the violaxanthin cycle pool size when leaves were acclimated to a range of irradiances. In parallel to the decline of F 470/F 660 with high light acclimation also the quantum yield of photosynthetic oxygen evolution in blue light decreased. The data confirm that violaxanthin cycle carotenoids do not transfer absorbed light to chlorophyll. It is proposed to use the ratio F 470/F 660 as an indicator for the light acclimation status of the chloroplasts in a leaf.
Keywords: Violaxanthin cycle; Chlorophyll fluorescence; Light acclimation; Photosynthetic quantum yield; Energy transfer

A newly developed compact measuring system for assessment of transmittance changes in the near-infrared spectral region is described; it allows deconvolution of redox changes due to ferredoxin (Fd), P700, and plastocyanin (PC) in intact leaves. In addition, it can also simultaneously measure chlorophyll fluorescence. The major opto-electronic components as well as the principles of data acquisition and signal deconvolution are outlined. Four original pulse-modulated dual-wavelength difference signals are measured (785–840 nm, 810–870 nm, 870–970 nm, and 795–970 nm). Deconvolution is based on specific spectral information presented graphically in the form of ‘Differential Model Plots’ (DMP) of Fd, P700, and PC that are derived empirically from selective changes of these three components under appropriately chosen physiological conditions. Whereas information on maximal changes of Fd is obtained upon illumination after dark-acclimation, maximal changes of P700 and PC can be readily induced by saturating light pulses in the presence of far-red light. Using the information of DMP and maximal changes, the new measuring system enables on-line deconvolution of Fd, P700, and PC. The performance of the new device is demonstrated by some examples of practical applications, including fast measurements of flash relaxation kinetics and of the Fd, P700, and PC changes paralleling the polyphasic fluorescence rise upon application of a 300-ms pulse of saturating light.
Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; Cyclic electron transport; FeS proteins; Flash relaxation kinetics; Photosystem I; Polyphasic fluorescence rise; Thioredoxin

In this brief account, I describe the background for dividing photosynthesis into “light” and “dark” reactions and show how this concept changed to “light” and “carbon” reactions as science in the field advanced.
Keywords: Light reactions; Dark reactions; F.F. Blackman; O. Warburg; Thioredoxin; Light activation