To avoid photodamage, photosynthetic organisms are able to thermally dissipate the energy absorbed in excess in a process known as nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). Although NPQ has been studied extensively, the major players and the mechanism of quenching remain debated. This is a result of the difficulty in extracting molecular information from in vivo experiments and the absence of a validation system for in vitro experiments. Here, we have created a minimal cell of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that is able to undergo NPQ. We show that LHCII, the main light harvesting complex of algae, cannot switch to a quenched conformation in response to pH changes by itself. Instead, a small amount of the protein LHCSR1 (light-harvesting complex stress related 1) is able to induce a large, fast, and reversible pH-dependent quenching in an LHCII-containing membrane. These results strongly suggest that LHCSR1 acts as pH sensor and that it modulates the excited state lifetimes of a large array of LHCII, also explaining the NPQ observed in the LHCSR3-less mutant. The possible quenching mechanisms are discussed.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|