Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 139, Issue 1–3, pp 15–43 | Cite as

A sixty-year tryst with photosynthesis and related processes: an informal personal perspective

  • GovindjeeEmail author
History and Biography


After briefly describing my early collaborative work at the University of Allahabad, that had laid the foundation of my research life, I present here some of our research on photosynthesis at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, randomly selected from light absorption to NADP+ reduction in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. These include the fact that (i) both the light reactions I and II are powered by light absorbed by chlorophyll (Chl) a of different spectral forms; (ii) light emission (fluorescence, delayed fluorescence, and thermoluminescence) by plants, algae, and cyanobacteria provides detailed information on these reactions and beyond; (iii) primary photochemistry in both the photosystems I (PS I) and II (PS II) occurs within a few picoseconds; and (iv) most importantly, bicarbonate plays a unique role on the electron acceptor side of PS II, specifically at the two-electron gate of PS II. Currently, the ongoing research around the world is, and should be, directed towards making photosynthesis better able to deal with the global issues (such as increasing population, dwindling resources, and rising temperature) particularly through genetic modification. However, basic research is necessary to continue to provide us with an understanding of the molecular mechanism of the process and to guide us in reaching our goals of increasing food production and other chemicals we need for our lives.


Bicarbonate effect Chlorophyll a fluorescence Photosystem II Primary photochemistry State changes Thermoluminescence 



First of all, I thank all the thousands of undergraduate and hundreds of wonderful graduate students in my classes that I taught from 1961 to 1999 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in different departments or programs: Plant Biology (earlier Botany); Biology (Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology); Honors Biology; Biophysics (and Quantitative Biology); Physiology & Molecular Biology (Cell Biology); and Biochemistry; and from 1954 to 1956 at the University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India, in the Department of Botany. I give special thanks to Rajni Govindjee for reading this manuscript, and making comments on my text, and for providing me most of the photographs shown here. I also thank my daughter Anita Govindjee for reading and correcting an earlier draft of this manuscript. I am highly indebted to Lars Olof Björn & Dima Shevela (of Sweden), Radek Kaňa (of Czech Republic), Robert (Bob) Blankenship, William (Bill) Coleman, Donald (Don) R.Ort, Rita Khanna, Alexandrina (Sandra) Stirbet & Barbara Zilinskas, (of USA), Kärin Nickelsen (of Germany), George C. Papageorgiou (of Greece), Xin-Guang Zhu (of China), Tatsuya Tomo (of Japan), Suleyman Allakhverdiev (of Russia), and Julian Eaton-Rye (of New Zealand) for reading and making suggestions for improvement before the submission of this text; Julian has my greatest gratitude, especially for his article about me in this special issue. I have accepted most of the suggestions of all the readers; all leftover errors are mine.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology, Department of Biochemistry, Center of Biophysics and Quantitative BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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