European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 191–199 | Cite as

Novel effects of methyl viologen on photosystem II function in spinach leaves

  • Da-Yong Fan
  • Husen Jia
  • James Barber
  • Wah Soon ChowEmail author


Methyl viologen (MV) is a well-known electron mediator that works on the acceptor side of photosystem I. We investigated the little-known, MV-induced inhibition of linear electron flow through photosystem II (PS II) in spinach-leaf discs. Even a low [MV] decreased the (1) average, light-adapted photochemical efficiency of PS II traps, (2) oxidation state of the primary quinone acceptor QA in PS II during illumination, (3) photochemical efficiency of light-adapted open PS II traps, (4) fraction of absorbed light energy dissipated constitutively in a light-independent manner or as chlorophyll (Chl) a fluorescence emission, (5) Chl a fluorescence yield corresponding to dark-adapted open reaction-center traps (F o) and closed reaction-center traps (F m), and (6) half-time for re-oxidation of Q A in PS II after a single-turnover flash. These effects suggest that the presence of MV accelerates various “downhill” electron-transfer steps in PS II. Therefore, when using the MV to quantify cyclic electron flow, the inhibitory effect of MV on PS II should be taken into account.


Cyclic electron flow Exciton-radical pair equilibrium Linear electron flow Methyl viologen Photosystem II 



Adenosine triphosphate


Cyclic electron flow





D1, D2 protein

psbA, B gene product, respectively

Fo, Fm

Chl fluorescence corresponding to open and closed PS II traps in the dark-adapted state, respectively

Fo′, Fm

Chl fluorescence corresponding to open and closed PS II traps in the light-adapted state, respectively


Variable Chl a fluorescence in the light-adapted state (=F m′  F o)


Linear electron flow


Methyl viologen


Oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


The fraction of absorbed light either dissipated constitutively as heat in a light-independent manner or emitted as Chl a fluorescence


The fraction of absorbed light partitioned as heat dissipation in a light-dependent manner


The average quantum yield of PS II photochemistry in the light

P680, P700

Special Chl pair in the PS II, I reaction centers, respectively








Photosystem I, II, respectively


Primary, secondary quinone acceptor in PS II, respectively


Oxidation state of QA



We gratefully acknowledge the support of this work by an Australian Research Council (Grant DP0664719) to W.S.C. and J.B., and by The National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30770346) and an Endeavour Fellowship (both to D.-Y.F.).


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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Da-Yong Fan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Husen Jia
    • 1
  • James Barber
    • 3
  • Wah Soon Chow
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Photobioenergetics Group, School of Biology, College of Medicine, Biology and EnvironmentThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Division of Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of ScienceImperial CollegeLondonUK

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