, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 117-128

Adaptation of the thylakoid membranes of pea chloroplasts to light intensities. II. Regulation of electron transport capacities, electron carriers, coupling factor (CF1) activity and rates of photosynthesis

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The electron transport rates of photosystems II and I, amounts of electron carriers, coupling factor activity and photosynthetic rates were investigated in thylakoids isolated from pea plants grown under a wide range of light intensities (16 h light-8 h dark). The electron transport rates of PS II and PS I, as partial reactions or in whole chain, and coupling factor activity on a unit chlorophyll basis, all increased as the light intensity available for growth was altered from a very low intensity of 10 μE m-2s-1 to a high intensity of 840 μE m-2s-1. Similarly, there were increases in the amounts of atrazine binding sites, plastoquinine, cytochrome f and P700 per unit chlorophyll; significantly, the amounts of reaction centres of PS II and PS I were not equal at any light intensity. The rate of change of all parameters with respect to light intensity could be represented by two straight lines of different slopes which met at a transition point corresponding to approximately 200 μE m-2s-1 during growth. These photoadaptations were similar to those observed for both the relative distribution of chlorophyll in chlorophyll-protein complexes and the chl a/chl b ratios [Leong and Anderson, 1984, Photosynthesis Research 5:117–128]. Since these thylakoid components and functions were affected in the same direction by light intensity during growth and all show linear relationships with chl a/chl b ratios, it indicates that they are closely regulated and markedly well co-ordinated. Plants compensate for the limited amount of low light intensities by drastically increasing the light-harvesting antenna unit size of photosystem II and to a lesser extent that of photosystem I. Changes in the composition of the thylakoid membranes exert a regulatory effect on the overall photosynthetic rate up to approximately 450 μE m-2s-1.