Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 395–410 | Cite as

Cyclic electron flow around Photosystem II in vivo

  • Ondrej Prasil
  • Zbigniew Kolber
  • Joseph A. Berry
  • Paul G. Falkowski
Regular Papers


The oxygen flash yield (YO2) and photochemical yield of PS II (ΦPS II) were simultaneously detected in intact Chlorella cells on a bare platinum oxygen rate electrode. The two yields were measured as a function of background irradiance in the steady-state and following a transition from light to darkness. During steady-state illumination at moderate irradiance levels, YO2 and ΦPS II followed each other, suggesting a close coupling between the oxidation of water and QA reduction (Falkowski et al. (1988) Biochim. Biophys. Acta 933: 432–443). Following a light-to-dark transition, however, the relationship between QA reduction and the fraction of PS II reaction centers capable of evolving O2 became temporarily uncoupled. ΦPS II recovered to the preillumination levels within 5–10 s, while the YO2 required up to 60 s to recover under aerobic conditions. The recovery of YO2 was independent of the redox state of QA, but was accompanied by a 30% increase in the functional absorption cross-section of PS II (σPS II). The hysteresis between YO2 and the reduction of QA during the light-to-dark transition was dependent upon the reduction level of the plastoquinone pool and does not appear to be due to a direct radiative charge back-reaction, but rather is a consequence of a transient cyclic electron flow around PS II. The cycle is engaged in vivo only when the plastoquinone pool is reduced. Hence, the plastoquinone pool can act as a clutch that disconnects the oxygen evolution from photochemical charge separation in PS II.

Key words

chlorophyll fluorescence cyclic electron transport oxygen evolution Photosystem II quantum yield 



acceleration of the deactivation reactions of the water-splitting enzyme (agents)








minimum fluorescence yield in the dark-adapted state


minimum fluorescence yield under ambient irradiance or during transition from the light-adapted state


maximum fluorescence yield in the dark-adapted state


maximum fluorescence yield under ambient irradiance or during transition from light-adapted state


variable fluorescence (FV=FM–FO ; FV′=FM′–FI)


fast repetition rate (fluorometer)


quantum yield of QA reduction (ΦPS II=(FM − FO)/FM or ΦPS II)=(FM= − FI=)/FM=)


Chl a/b light harvesting complexes of Photosystem II


oxygen evolving complex of PS II


reaction center chlorophyll of PS II






Photosystem I


Photosystem II


reaction centers of Photosystem II


the effective absorption cross-section of PHotosystem II




oxygen flash yield


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ondrej Prasil
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zbigniew Kolber
    • 1
  • Joseph A. Berry
    • 3
  • Paul G. Falkowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Oceanographic and Atmospheric Sciences Division, Department of Applied ScienceBrookhaven National LaboratoryUptonUSA
  2. 2.Institute of MicrobiologyAcademy of Sciences of Czech RepublicTrebonCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA

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