Photosynthesis in Chromera velia Represents a Simple System with High Efficiency

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Chromera velia (Alveolata) is a close relative to apicomplexan parasites with a functional photosynthetic plastid. Even though C. velia has a primitive complement of pigments (lacks chlorophyll c) and uses an ancient type II form of RuBISCO, we found that its photosynthesis is very efficient with the ability to acclimate to a wide range of irradiances. C. velia maintain similar maximal photosynthetic rates when grown under continual light-limited (low light) or light-saturated (high light) conditions. This flexible acclimation to continuous light is provided by an increase of the chlorophyll content and photosystem II connectivity under light limited conditions and by an increase in the content of protective carotenoids together with stimulation of effective non-photochemical quenching under high light. C. velia is able to significantly increase photosynthetic rates when grown under a light-dark cycle with sinusoidal changes in light intensity. Photosynthetic activities were nonlinearly related to light intensity, with maximum performance measured at mid-morning. C. velia efficiently acclimates to changing irradiance by stimulation of photorespiration and non-photochemical quenching, thus avoiding any measurable photoinhibition. We suggest that the very high CO(2) assimilation rates under sinusoidal light regime are allowed by activation of the oxygen consuming process (possibly chlororespiration) that maintains high efficiency of RuBISCO (type II). Despite the overall simplicity of the C. velia photosynthetic system, it operates with great efficiency.




Quigg, A., Kotabová, E., Jarešová, J., Kaňa, R., Šetlík, J., Šedivá, B., … Prášil, O. (2012). Photosynthesis in Chromera velia Represents a Simple System with High Efficiency. PLoS ONE, 7(10).

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