Photosynthetic Quantum Yield Dynamics: From Photosystems to Leaves

S.W. Hogewoning, E. Wientjes, P. Douwstra, G. Trouwborst, W. van Ieperen, R. Croce, J. Harbinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

257 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanisms underlying the wavelength dependence of the quantum yield for CO2 fixation (a) and its acclimation to the growth-light spectrum are quantitatively addressed, combining in vivo physiological and in vitro molecular methods. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) was grown under an artificial sunlight spectrum, shade light spectrum, and blue light, and the quantum yield for photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII) electron transport and a were simultaneously measured in vivo at 20 different wavelengths. The wavelength dependence of the photosystem excitation balance was calculated from both these in vivo data and in vitro from the photosystem composition and spectroscopic properties. Measuring wavelengths overexciting PSI produced a higher a for leaves grown under the shade light spectrum (i.e., PSI light), whereas wavelengths overexciting PSII produced a higher a for the sun and blue leaves. The shade spectrum produced the lowest PSI:PSII ratio. The photosystem excitation balance calculated from both in vivo and in vitro data was substantially similar and was shown to determine a at those wavelengths where absorption by carotenoids and nonphotosynthetic pigments is insignificant (i.e., >580 nm). We show quantitatively that leaves acclimate their photosystem composition to their growth light spectrum and how this changes the wavelength dependence of the photosystem excitation balance and quantum yield for CO2 fixation. This also proves that combining different wavelengths can enhance quantum yields substantially.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1921-1935
JournalThe Plant Cell
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • chlorophyll-protein complexes
  • singlet energy-transfer
  • plastid redox signals
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • light environment
  • state transitions
  • action spectrum
  • leaf photosynthesis
  • vascular plants
  • beta-carotene


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