Probing functional and optical cross-sections of PSII in leaves during state transitions using fast repetition rate light induced fluorescence transients
Plants adjust the relative sizes of PSII and PSI antennae in response to the spectral composition of weak light favouring either photosystem by processes known as state transitions (ST), attributed to a discrete antenna migration involving phosphorylation of light-harvesting chlorophyll-protein complexes in PSII. Here for the first time we monitored the extent and dynamics of ST in leaves from estimates of optical absorption cross-section (relative PSII antenna size a PSII ). These estimates were obtained from in situ measurements of functional absorption cross-section (σ PSII ) and maximum photochemical efficiency of PSII (φ PSII ) i.e. a PSII = σ PSII /φ PSII (Kolber et al. 1998) and other parameters from a light induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) device (Osmond et al. 2017). The fast repetition rate (FRR) Q A flash protocol of this instrument monitors chlorophyll fluorescence yields with reduced Q A irrespective of the redox state of plastoquinone (PQ), as well as during strong ~1 s white light pulses that fully reduce the PQ pool. Fitting this transient with the FRR model monitors kinetics of PSII → PQ, PQ → PSI, and the redox state of the PQ pool in the 'PQ pool control loop' that underpins ST, with a time resolution of a few seconds. All LIFT/FRR criteria confirmed the absence of ST in antenna mutant chlorina-f2 of barley and asLhcb2-12 of Arabidopsis, as well as STN7 kinase mutants stn7 and stn7/8. In contrast, wild-type barley and Arabidopsis genotypes Col, npq1, npq4, OEpsbs, pgr5 bkg and pgr5, showed normal ST. However, the extent of ST (and by implication the size of the phosphorylated LHCII pool participating in ST) deduced from changes in a PSII and other parameters with reduced Q A range up to 35%. Estimates from strong WL pulses in the same assay were only ~10%. The larger estimates of ST from the Q A flash are discussed in the context of contemporary dynamic structural models of ST involving formation and participation of PSII and PSI megacomplexes in an 'energetically connected lake' of phosphorylated LHCII trimers (Grieco et al. 2015). Despite the absence of ST, asLhcb2-12 displays normal wild-type modulation of electron transport rate (ETR) and the PQ pool during ST assays, reflecting compensatory changes in antenna LHCIIs in this genotype. Impaired LHCII phosphorylation in stn7 and stn7/8 accelerates ETR from PSII →PQ, over-reducing the PQ pool and abolishing the yield difference between the Q A flash and WL pulse, with implications for photochemical and thermal phases of the O-J-I-P transient.