, Volume 101, Issue 2-3, pp 217-232
Date: 23 Jun 2009

Delayed fluorescence in photosynthesis

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Abstract

Photosynthesis is a very efficient photochemical process. Nevertheless, plants emit some of the absorbed energy as light quanta. This luminescence is emitted, predominantly, by excited chlorophyll a molecules in the light-harvesting antenna, associated with Photosystem II (PS II) reaction centers. The emission that occurs before the utilization of the excitation energy in the primary photochemical reaction is called prompt fluorescence. Light emission can also be observed from repopulated excited chlorophylls as a result of recombination of the charge pairs. In this case, some time-dependent redox reactions occur before the excitation of the chlorophyll. This delays the light emission and provides the name for this phenomenon—delayed fluorescence (DF), or delayed light emission (DLE). The DF intensity is a decreasing polyphasic function of the time after illumination, which reflects the kinetics of electron transport reactions both on the (electron) donor and the (electron) acceptor sides of PS II. Two main experimental approaches are used for DF measurements: (a) recording of the DF decay in the dark after a single turnover flash or after continuous light excitation and (b) recording of the DF intensity during light adaptation of the photosynthesizing samples (induction curves), following a period of darkness. In this paper we review historical data on DF research and recent advances in the understanding of the relation between the delayed fluorescence and specific reactions in PS II. An experimental method for simultaneous recording of the induction transients of prompt and delayed chlorophyll fluorescence and decay curves of DF in the millisecond time domain is discussed.