Planta

, Volume 237, Issue 3, pp 837–847 | Cite as

A mechanistic model for the light response of photosynthetic electron transport rate based on light harvesting properties of photosynthetic pigment molecules

Original Article

Abstract

Models describing the light response of photosynthetic electron transport rate (ETR) are routinely used to determine how light absorption influences energy, reducing power and yields of primary productivity; however, no single model is currently able to provide insight into the fundamental processes that implicitly govern the variability of light absorption. Here we present development and application of a new mechanistic model of ETR for photosystem II based on the light harvesting (absorption and transfer to the core ‘reaction centres’) characteristics of photosynthetic pigment molecules. Within this model a series of equations are used to describe novel biophysical and biochemical characteristics of photosynthetic pigment molecules and in turn light harvesting; specifically, the eigen-absorption cross-section and the minimum average lifetime of photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state, which describe the ability of light absorption of photosynthetic pigment molecules and retention time of excitons in the excited state but are difficult to be measured directly. We applied this model to a series of previously collected fluorescence data and demonstrated that our model described well the light response curves of ETR, regardless of whether dynamic down-regulation of PSII occurs, for a range of photosynthetic organisms (Abies alba, Picea abies, Pinus mugo and Emiliania huxleyi). Inherent estimated parameters (e.g. maximum ETR and the saturation irradiance) by our model are in very close agreement with the measured data. Overall, our mechanistic model potentially provides novel insights into the regulation of ETR by light harvesting properties as well as dynamical down-regulation of PSII.

Keywords

Average lifetime Dynamic down-regulation Electron transport rate Light absorption Light response Photosynthetic pigment 

Abbreviations

αt

Total optical absorption coefficient of photosynthetic pigment molecules for uniform case of optical absorption

αT

Total optical absorption coefficient of photosynthetic pigment molecules for heterogeneous case of optical absorption

Aki

Einstein’s coefficient for spontaneous emission

ETR

Electron transport rate

ETRm

Photosynthetic capacity at saturation light

ETRmax

Maximum photosynthetic electron transport rate

ETRs

A scaling factor defined as the maximum potential relative ETR

gi

Degeneration of energy level of photosynthetic pigment molecules in the ground state i

gk

Degeneration of energy level of photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state k

I

Light intensity

ni

Photosynthetic pigment molecules in the ground state i per unit volume

nk

Photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state k per unit volume

n0

Total photosynthetic pigment molecules per unit volume

Ni

Total photosynthetic pigment molecules in the ground state i

Nk

Total photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state k

N0

Total photosynthetic pigment molecules

PARsat

Saturation light intensity corresponding to ETRmax

qN

Non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence

qP

Photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence

Rki

Relaxation rate by spontaneous emission from excited state k to ground state i

R1

Rate of pigment molecules from the excited state k to the ground state i due to primary charge separation

R2

Rate of pigment molecules from the excited state k to the ground state i due to non-radiative heat dissipation

α

Initial slope of light response curve of ETR

α

Fraction of light absorbed by PSII

β

Leaf absorptance

ξ1

Probability of photochemistry

ξ2

Probability of non-radiative heat dissipation

ξ3

Probability of fluorescence

ρik

Rate of state transit from ground state i to excited state k due to light illumination

ρki

Rate of state transit from excited state k to ground state i due to light illumination

σik

Eigen-absorption cross-section of photosynthetic pigment molecule from ground state i to excited state k due to light illumination

σki

Eigen-absorption cross-section of photosynthetic pigment molecule from excited state k to ground state i due to light illumination

σik

Effective optical absorption cross-section of photosynthetic pigment molecule from ground state i to excited state k due to light illumination

φ

Efficiency of exciton transfer via PSII reaction centre for charge separation of P680

τ

Average lifetime of the photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state

τmin

Minimum average lifetime of photosynthetic pigment molecules in the excited state

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of two anonymous reviewers whose comments contributed to an improved version of the MS. This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30960031), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (Grant No. 2009GZN0076) and the Key Discipline of Atomic and Molecular Physics in Jiangxi Province (2011-1015).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zi-Piao Ye
    • 1
    • 2
  • Piotr Robakowski
    • 3
  • David J. Suggett
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Center for Jinggangshan Eco-Environmental Sciences, Jinggangshan UniversityJi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Maths and Physics, Jinggangshan UniversityJi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of ForestryPoznan University of Life SciencesPoznanPoland
  4. 4.School of Biological Sciences, University of EssexColchesterUK

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