Regulation of the Structure and Function of the Light Harvesting Complexes of Photosystem II by the Xanthophyll Cycle

  • Peter Horton
  • Alexander V. Ruban
  • Andrew J. Young
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 8)


The xanthophyll cycle is a relatively simple process whereby the interconversion of violaxanthin into zeaxanthin in the light harvesting complexes serves to regulate light harvesting and subsequent energy dissipation in different light environments. In order to determine how these carotenoids can regulate such processes it is first important to ascertain what differences exist between these two xanthophylls. Deepoxidation brings about significant changes in the structures and hence the properties of these carotenoids. Thus when the conjugated chain length is increased from nine to eleven conjugated double bonds this in turn affects their S1 energies but also alters the molecule’s sizeandshape. The ‘Molecular Gear Shift Model’ describes the direct quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence by singlet-singlet energy transfer to zeaxanthin, while violaxanthin can only act to transfer its energy to chlorophyll. However this model does not account for the ability of these molecules to profoundly affect structure and organization of light harvesting complexes. Differences in carotenoid structure affect their interactions with the complexes so that violaxanthin and zeaxanthin play an important role in determining their structure and function by controlling its inter-subunit structure. In the presence of violaxanthin, complexes are optimized for light utilization and are resistant to ΔpH-dependent quenching. De-epoxidation into zeaxanthin allows a different state to be formed in which ΔpH formation readily triggers conversion to a strongly quenched state in which sub-unit interactions are increase.


Chlorophyll Fluorescence Xanthophyll Cycle Singlet Energy Transfer Xanthophyll Cycle Carotenoid Xanthophyll Cycle Pool Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.





deepoxidation state


light harvesting complexes of Photosystem II


photon flux density


light saturated rate of photosynthesis


Photosystem II


nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence dependent upon the transthylakoid proton gradient


nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence


violaxanthin deepoxidase


transthylakoid pH gradient


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Horton
    • 1
  • Alexander V. Ruban
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Young
    • 2
  1. 1.Robert Hill Institute, Department of Molecular Biology and BiotechnologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.School of Biological and Earth SciencesLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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