The relevance of dynamic thylakoid organisation to photosynthetic regulation

Matthew P. Johnson*, Emilie Wientjes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The higher plant chloroplast thylakoid membrane system performs the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis. These provide the ATP and NADPH required for the fixation of CO2 into biomass by the Calvin-Benson cycle and a range of other metabolic reactions in the stroma. Land plants are frequently challenged by fluctuations in their environment, such as light, nutrient and water availability, which can create a mismatch between the amounts of ATP and NADPH produced and the amounts required by the downstream metabolism. Left unchecked, such imbalances can lead to the production of reactive oxygen species that damage the plant and harm productivity. Fortunately, plants have evolved a complex range of regulatory processes to avoid or minimize such deleterious effects by controlling the efficiency of light harvesting and electron transfer in the thylakoid membrane. Generally the regulation of the light reactions has been studied and conceptualised at the microscopic level of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions, however in recent years dynamic changes in the thylakoid macrostructure itself have been recognised to play a significant role in regulating light harvesting and electron transfer. Here we review the evidence for the involvement of macrostructural changes in photosynthetic regulation and review the techniques that brought this evidence to light.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148039
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Electron transfer
  • Light harvesting
  • Macrostructure
  • Microscopy
  • Photosynthesis


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