Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 48, Issue 1–2, pp 117–126 | Cite as

Thermoluminescence from the photosynthetic apparatus

  • Imre Vass
  • Govindjee 


One of the fundamental discoveries of W. Arnold was the detection of thermally stimulated light emission from preilluminated photosynthetic material (Arnold and Sherwood (1957) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 43: 105–114). This phenomenon, called thermoluminescence (TL), is characteristic of a wide range of materials (semiconductors, minerals, inorganic and organic crystals, and complex biological systems such as the photosynthetic apparatus) which share the common ability of storing radiant energy in thermally stabilized trap states.

The original discovery of TL in dried chloroplasts later proved to be a phenomenon common to all photosynthetic organisms: photosynthetic bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae and higher plants. Following the pioneering work of Arnold, considerable effort has been devoted to identification and characterization of photosynthetic TL components. This work has firmly established the participation of various redox states of the water-oxidizing complex and the quinone electron acceptors of Photosystem II in the generation of photosynthetic glow curves. Since TL characteristics are very sensitive to subtle changes in redox properties of the involved electron transport components, the TL method has become a powerful tool in probing a wide range of PS II redox reactions. In this paper, we will review the impact of Arnold's work in initiating and promoting TL studies in photosynthesis and will cover the most important developments of this field of research until the present day.

Key words

W.A. Arnold thermoluminescence delayed luminescence Photosystem II electron transport 





delayed luminescence






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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Imre Vass
    • 1
  • Govindjee 
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Plant BiologyBiological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of SciencesSzegedHungary
  2. 2.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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