Plant physiology

Light intensity-dependent modulation of chlorophyll b biosynthesis and photosynthesis by overexpression of chlorophyllide a oxygenase in tobacco.

PMID 22419827


Chlorophyll b is synthesized by the oxidation of a methyl group on the B ring of a tetrapyrrole molecule to a formyl group by chlorophyllide a oxygenase (CAO). The full-length CAO from Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) was overexpressed in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) that grows well at light intensities much higher than those tolerated by Arabidopsis. This resulted in an increased synthesis of glutamate semialdehyde, 5-aminolevulinic acid, magnesium-porphyrins, and chlorophylls. Overexpression of CAO resulted in increased chlorophyll b synthesis and a decreased chlorophyll a/b ratio in low light-grown as well as high light-grown tobacco plants; this effect, however, was more pronounced in high light. The increased potential of the protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase activity and chlorophyll biosynthesis compensated for the usual loss of chlorophylls in high light. Increased chlorophyll b synthesis in CAO-overexpressed plants was accompanied not only by an increased abundance of light-harvesting chlorophyll proteins but also of other proteins of the electron transport chain, which led to an increase in the capture of light as well as enhanced (40%-80%) electron transport rates of photosystems I and II at both limiting and saturating light intensities. Although the quantum yield of carbon dioxide fixation remained unchanged, the light-saturated photosynthetic carbon assimilation, starch content, and dry matter accumulation increased in CAO-overexpressed plants grown in both low- and high-light regimes. These results demonstrate that controlled up-regulation of chlorophyll b biosynthesis comodulates the expression of several thylakoid membrane proteins that increase both the antenna size and the electron transport rates and enhance carbon dioxide assimilation, starch content, and dry matter accumulation.

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