, Volume 198, Issue 3, pp 324-333

Temperature-dependent adjustment of the thermal stability of photosystem II in vivo: possible involvement of xanthophyll-cycle pigments

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Moderately elevated temperatures induce a rapid increase in the heat and light resistance of photosystem II (PSII) in higher-plant leaves. This phenomenon was studied in intact potato leaves exposed to 35 °C for 2 h, using chlorophyll fluorometry, kinetic and difference spectrophotometry and photoacoustics. The 35 °C treatment was observed to cause energetic uncoupling between carotenoids and chlorophylls: (i) the steady-state chlorophyll fluorescence emission excited by a blue light beam (490 nm) was noticeably reduced as compared to fluorescence elicited by orange light (590 nm) and (ii) the quantum yield for photosynthetic oxygen evolution in blue light (400–500 nm) was preferentially reduced relative to the quantum yield measured in red light (590–710 nm). Analysis of the chlorophyll-fluorescence and light-absorption characteristics of the heated leaves showed numerous analogies with the fluorescence and absorption changes associated with the light-induced xanthophyll cycle activity, indicating that the carotenoid species involved in the heat-induced pigment uncoupling could be the xanthophyll violaxanthin. More precisely, the 35 °C treatment was observed to accelerate and amplify the non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (in both moderate red light and strong white light) and to cause an increase in leaf absorbance in the blue-green spectral region near 520 nm, as do strong light treatments which induce the massive conversion of violaxanthin to zeaxanthin. Interestingly, short exposure of potato leaves to strong light also provoked a significant increase in the stability of PSII to heat stress. It was also observed that photosynthetic electron transport was considerably more inhibited by chilling temperatures in 35 °C-treated leaves than in untreated leaves. Further, pre-exposure of potato leaves to 35 °C markedly increased the amplitude and the rate of light-induced changes in leaf absorbance at 505 nm (indicative of xanthophyll cycle activity), suggesting the possibility that moderately elevated temperature increased the accessibility of violaxanthin to the membrane-located de-epoxidase. This was supported by the quantitative analysis of the xanthophyll-cycle pigments before and after the 35 °C treatment, showing light-independent accumulation of zeaxanthin during mild heat stress. Based on these results, we propose that the rapid adjustment of the heat resistance of PSII may involve a modification of the interaction between violaxanthin and the light-harvesting complexes of PSII. As a consequence, the thermoresistance of PSII could be enhanced either directly through a conformational change of PSII or indirectly via a carotenoid-dependent modulation of membrane lipid fluidity.

We thank Dr. J-L Montillet (CEA-Cadarache) for the use of his HPLC apparatus and Professor Y. Lemoine (University of Lille, France) for technical advice on HPLC.