We have constructed a mutant of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC7942 deficient in the Photosystem I subunit PsaL. As has been shown in other cyanobacteria, we find that Photosystem I is exclusively monomeric in the PsaL(-) mutant: no Photosystem I trimers can be isolated. The mutation does not significantly alter pigment composition, photosystem stoichiometry, or the steady-state light-harvesting properties of the cells. In agreement with a study in Synechococcus sp. PCC7002 [Schluchter et al. (1996) Photochem Photobiol 64: 53-66], we find that state transitions, a physiological adaptation of light-harvesting function, occur significantly faster in the PsaL(-) mutant than in the wild-type. To explore the reasons for this, we have used fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to measure the diffusion of phycobilisomes in vivo. We find that phycobilisomes diffuse, on average, nearly three times faster in the PsaL(-) mutant than in the wild-type. We discuss the implications for the mechanism of state transitions in cyanobacteria.
Keywords: Photosystem I; PsaL; cyanobacterium; diffusion; fluorescence recovery after photobleaching; photosynthesis; phycobilisome; state transition; thylakoid membrane.