Temperature-induced greening of Chlorella vulgaris. The role of the cellular energy balance and zeaxanthin-dependent nonphotochemical quenching.

PMID 12905022


When cells of the green alga Chlorella vulgaris Beij. are transferred from growth at 5 degrees C and an irradiance of 150 micromol photons m(-2) s(-1) to 27 degrees C and the same irradiance, they undergo what is normally considered a high-light to low-light phenotypic change. This involves a 3-fold increase in cellular chlorophyll content with a concomitant increase in light-harvesting complex polypeptide levels. This process appears to occur in response to the cellular capacity to utilize the products of photosynthesis, with the redox state of the plastoquinone pool sensing the cellular energy balance. The phenotypic adjustment can be enhanced or blocked using chemical inhibitors that modulate the redox state of the plastoquinone pool. The functional changes in the photosynthetic apparatus that occurred during the high-light to low-light acclimation were examined with special consideration paid to the paradox that 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea (DCMU)-treated cells, with non-functional photosystem II (PSII), accumulate light-harvesting polypeptides. At the structural and basic functional levels, the light-harvesting complex of the cells treated with DCMU was indistinguishable from that of the untreated, control cells. To examine how PSII was protected in the DCMU-treated cells, we measured the content of xanthophyll-cycle pigments. It appeared that a zeaxanthin-dependent nonphotochemical quenching process was involved in PSII protection during greening in the presence of DCMU. Metabolic inhibitors of mitochondrial respiration were used to examine how the change in cellular energy balance regulates the greening process. Apparently, the mitochondrion acts to supply energy to the chloroplast during greening, and inhibition of mitochondrial respiration diminishes chlorophyll accumulation apparently through an increase in the redox state of the plastoquinone pool.

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