- Plants and algae are faced with a conundrum: harvesting sufficient light to drive their metabolic needs while dissipating light in excess to prevent photodamage, a process known as nonphotochemical quenching. A slowly relaxing form of energy dissipation, termed qH, is critical for plants’ survival under abiotic stress; however, qH location in the photosynthetic membrane is unresolved. Here, we tested whether we could isolate subcomplexes from plants in which qH was induced that would remain in an energy-dissipative state.
- Non-photochemical quenching of excess excitation energy is an important photoprotective mechanism in photosynthetic organisms. In Arabidopsis thaliana, a high quenching capacity is constitutively present and depends on the PsbS protein. In the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, non-photochemical quenching becomes activated upon high light acclimation and requires the accumulation of light harvesting complex stress-related (LHCSR) proteins. Expression of the PsbS protein in C. reinhardtii has not been reported yet.
- Light harvesting complex stress-related 3 (LHCSR3) is the protein essential for photoprotective excess energy dissipation (non-photochemical quenching, NPQ) in the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Activation of NPQ requires low pH in the thylakoid lumen, which is induced in excess light conditions and sensed by lumen-exposed acidic residues. In this work we have used site-specific mutagenesis in vivo and in vitro for identification of the residues in LHCSR3 that are responsible for sensing lumen pH.
- The structural organization of proteins in biological membranes can affect their function. Photosynthetic thylakoid membranes in chloroplasts have the remarkable ability to change their supramolecular organization between disordered and semicrystalline states. Although the change to the semicrystalline state is known to be triggered by abiotic factors, the functional significance of this protein organization has not yet been understood. Taking advantage of an Arabidopsis thaliana fatty acid desaturase mutant (fad5) that constitutively forms semicrystalline arrays, we systematically test the functional implications of protein crystals in photosynthetic membranes.