The photosynthetic apparatus of higher plants acclimates to irradiance. Among the features which are changing is the pool size of the pigments belonging to the violaxanthin cycle, in which zeaxanthin is formed. In high light grown leaves, the violaxanthin cycle pool size is up to five times larger than in low light. The changes are reversible on a time scale of several days.
Since it has been published that violaxanthin cycle pigments do not transfer absorbed energy to chlorophyll, we hypothesized that excitation of chlorophyll fluorescence in the blue spectral region may be reduced in high light-acclimated leaves. Fluorescence excitation spectra of leaves of the Arabidopsis thaliana tt3 mutant showed strong differences between high and low light-acclimated plants from 430 to 520 nm.
The resulting difference spectrum was similar to carotenoids but shifted by about 20 nm to higher wavelengths. A good correlation was observed between the fluorescence excitation ratio F470/F660 and the violaxanthin cycle pool size when leaves were acclimated to a range of irradiances. In parallel to the decline of F470/F660 with high light acclimation also the quantum yield of photosynthetic oxygen evolution in blue light decreased.
The data confirm that violaxanthin cycle carotenoids do not transfer absorbed light to chlorophyll. It is proposed to use the ratio F470/F660 as an indicator for the light acclimation status of the chloroplasts in a leaf.
Nichelmann, L., Schulze, M., Herppich, W.B. and Bilger, W., 2016. A simple indicator for non-destructive estimation of the violaxanthin cycle pigment content in leaves. Photosynthesis research, 128(2), pp.183-193.
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