• Arabidopsis thaliana ;
  • cryptochrome;
  • signaling state;
  • photoreceptor lifetime;
  • flavin radical;
  • electron paramagnetic resonance


One crucial component in light signaling is the quantity of photoreceptor present in the active signaling state. The lifetime of the signaling state of a photoreceptor is limited because of thermal or otherwise back reversion of the chromophore to the ground state, and/or degradation of the photoreceptor in the light-activated state. It was previously shown that the lit state of plant cryptochromes contains flavin-neutral semiquinone, and that the half-lives of the lit state were in the range of 3–4 min in vitro. However, it was unknown how long-lived the signaling states of plant cryptochromes are in situ. Based on the loss of degradation of cry2 after prolonged dark incubation and loss of reversibility of photoactivated cry1 by a pulse of green light, we estimate the in vivo half-lives of the signaling states of cry1 and cry2 to be in the range of 5 and 16 min, respectively. Based on electron paramagnetic resonance measurements, the lifetime of the Arabidopsis cry1 lit state in insect cells was found to be ~6 min, and thus very similar to the lifetime of the signaling state in planta. Thus, the signaling state lifetimes of plant cryptochromes are not, or are only moderately, stabilized in planta.