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New Publication Unraveling the Dynamics of Plant Photosynthetic Response to Oscillating Light

Striped shadow on a pot plant's leaf.

A remarkable collaboration, including several partners of the DREAM project, has led to a scientific article revealing unprecedented insights into the intricate mechanisms governing the regulation of plant photosynthesis. Led by Assoc. Prof. Ladislav Nedbal from the Department of Biophysics at Palacký University, the research team comprised scientists from the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the École Normale Supérieure/Sorbonne University – both partners in the DREAM project- as well as other collaborators from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Michigan State University.

Together, they embarked on a quest to unravel the mysteries of plant responses to oscillating light environments.

In the article titled “Unraveling the Dynamics of Plant Photosynthetic Response to Oscillating Light”, and published in the journal New Phytologist, the DREAM team investigated how plants efficiently regulate their photosynthetic processes in rapidly changing light environments. The researchers focused on Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism widely used in plant biology studies, to unravel the frequency range at which plants can effectively respond to varying light stimuli.

The team measured and analyzed several physiological responses of wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana plants exposed to oscillating light of different frequencies. They also studied various mutants impaired in different pathways of cyclic electron transport. The findings revealed fascinating insights into the intricate mechanisms that enable plants to maintain photosynthetic efficiency while avoiding photodamage. Notably, the study found the regulation mechanism (PsbS-regulation) to be responsible for the rapid response to oscillation periods as short as 10 seconds. Instead, another set of processes, involving violaxanthin de-epoxidase, helped attenuate changes in chlorophyll fluorescence in oscillation periods of 2 minutes or longer. By knocking out specific pathways, it was also possible to recognize which ones have a larger impact on photosynthetic dynamics.

The team’s observations strongly support the hypothesis that slow light oscillations involve violaxanthin de-epoxidase, leading to the production of a relatively stable level of zeaxanthin. Moreover, the dynamics of photosystem I components were interpreted as being influenced by thylakoid remodeling occurring in slow light oscillations, modulating the redox rates.

Assoc. Prof. Nedbal, the lead researcher, emphasized the significance of these findings. “Our study highlights the remarkable robustness of plants to rapidly changing light conditions. By understanding the precise mechanisms underlying their responses, we can gain valuable knowledge for developing strategies to enhance crop productivity and optimize plant growth in dynamic environments.”

About New Phytologist 

New Phytologist is a leading international journal focusing on high-quality, original research across the broad spectrum of plant sciences, from intracellular processes to global environmental change. The journal is owned by the New Phytologist Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of plant science.

Photograph by Ivan Radic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.