Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 17–30 | Cite as

Photoprotection in intact cells of photosynthetic bacteria: quenching of bacteriochlorophyll fluorescence by carotenoid triplets

  • Gábor Sipka
  • Péter MarótiEmail author
Original Article


Upon high light excitation in photosynthetic bacteria, various triplet states of pigments can accumulate leading to harmful effects. Here, the generation and lifetime of flash-induced carotenoid triplets (3Car) have been studied by observation of the quenching of bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) fluorescence in different strains of photosynthetic bacteria including Rvx. gelatinosus (anaerobic and semianaerobic), Rsp. rubrum, Thio. roseopersicina, Rba. sphaeroides 2.4.1 and carotenoid- and cytochrome-deficient mutants Rba. sphaeroides Ga, R-26, and cycA, respectively. The following results were obtained: (1) 3Car quenching is observed during and not exclusively after the photochemical rise of the fluorescence yield of BChl indicating that the charge separation in the reaction center (RC) and the carotenoid triplet formation are not consecutive but parallel processes. (2) The photoprotective function of 3Car is not limited to the RC only and can be described by a model in which the carotenoids are distributed in the lake of the BChl pigments. (3) The observed lifetime of 3Car in intact cells is the weighted average of the lifetimes of the carotenoids with various numbers of conjugated double bonds in the bacterial strain. (4) The lifetime of 3Car measured in the light is significantly shorter (1–2 μs) than that measured in the dark (2–10 μs). The difference reveals the importance of the dynamics of 3Car before relaxation. The results will be discussed not only in terms of energy levels of the 3Car but also in terms of the kinetics of transitions among different sublevels in the excited triplet state of the carotenoid.


Bacterial photosynthesis Intact cells Fluorescence induction Triplet quenching Lake model 



This work was supported by GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00001, OTKA-K 112688, COST (CM1306), EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017, and Photosynthesis - Life from Light—Foundation (Hungary).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical PhysicsUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research CenterHungarian Academy of SciencesSzegedHungary

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