Photoinactivation and photoprotection of photosystem II in nature


Jan M. Anderson (corresponding author, e-mail


Photosystem II plays a central role not only in energy transduction, but also in monitoring the molecular redox mechanisms involved in signal transduction for acclimation to environmental stresses. Central to the regulation of photosystem II (PSII) function as a light-driven molecular machine in higher plant leaves, is an inevitable photo-inactivation of one PSII after 106–107 photons have been delivered to the leaf, although the act of photoinactivation per se requires only one photon. PSII function in acclimated pea leaves shows a reciprocity between irradiance and the time of illumination, demonstrating that the photoinactivation of PSII is a light dosage effect, depending on the number of photons absorbed rather than the rate of photon absorption. Hence, PSII photoinactivation will occur at low as well as high irradiance. There is a heterogeneity of PSII functional stability, possibly with less stable PSII monomers being located in grana margins and more stable PSII dimers in appressed granal domains. Matching the inevitable photoinactivation of PSII, green plants have an intrinsic capacity for D1 protein synthesis to restore PSII function which is saturated at very low light. Photoinhibition of PSII in vivo is often a photoprotective strategy rather than a damaging process.