• ferredoxin 2 knockout;
  • photosynthetic capacity;
  • high light acclimation;
  • redox signaling;
  • PGR5-dependent cyclic electron flow;
  • Arabidopsis thaliana


Photosynthetic electron transport is the major energy source for cellular metabolism in plants, and also has the potential to generate excess reactive oxygen species that cause irreversible damage to photosynthetic apparatus under adverse conditions. Ferredoxins (Fds), as the electron-distributing hub in the chloroplast, contribute to redox regulation and antioxidant defense. However, the steady-state levels of photosynthetic Fd decrease in plants when they are exposed to environmental stress conditions. To understand the effect of Fd down-regulation on plant growth, we characterized Arabidopsis thaliana plants lacking Fd2 (Fd2–KO) under long-term high light (HL) conditions. Unexpectedly, Fd2–KO plants exhibited efficient photosynthetic capacity and stable thylakoid protein complexes. At the transcriptional level, photoprotection-related genes were up-regulated more in the mutant plants, suggesting that knockout Fd2 lines possess a relatively effective photo-acclimatory responses involving enhanced plastid redox signaling. In contrast to the physiological characterization of Fd2–KO under short-term HL, the plastoquinone pool returned to a relatively balanced redox state via elevated PGR5-dependent cyclic electron flow during extended HL. fd2 pgr5 double mutant plants displayed severely impaired photosynthetic capacity under HL treatment, further supporting a role for PGR5 in adaptation to HL in the Fd2–KO plants. These results suggest potential benefits of reducing Fd levels in plants grown under long-term HL conditions.