Ferritin is required for rapid remodeling of the photosynthetic apparatus and minimizes photo-oxidative stress in response to iron availability in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Plant J. 2008 Jul;55(2):201-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03490.x. Epub 2008 Mar 19.


Ferritin is a key player in the iron homeostasis due to its ability to store large quantities of iron. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii contains two nuclear genes for ferritin (ferr1 and ferr2) that are induced when Chlamydomonas cells are shifted to iron-deficient conditions. In response to the reduced iron availability, degradation of photosystem I (PSI) and remodeling of its light-harvesting complex occur. This active PSI degradation slows down under photo-autotrophic conditions where photosynthesis is indispensable. We observed a strong induction of ferritin correlated with the degree of PSI degradation during iron deficiency. The PSI level can be restored to normal within 24 h after iron repletion at the expense of the accumulated ferritin, indicating that the ferritin-stored iron allows fast adjustment of the photosynthetic apparatus with respect to iron availability. RNAi strains that are significantly reduced in the amount of ferritin show a striking delay in the degradation of PSI under iron deficiency. Furthermore, these strains are more susceptible to photo-oxidative stress under high-light conditions. We conclude that (i) ferritin is used to buffer the iron released by degradation of the photosynthetic complexes, (ii) the physiological status of the cell determines the strategy used to overcome the impact of iron deficiency, (iii) the availability of ferritin is important for rapid degradation of PSI under iron deficiency, and (iv) ferritin plays a protective role under photo-oxidative stress conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts
  • Ferritins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Photosynthesis
  • RNA Interference


  • Chlorophyll
  • Ferritins
  • Iron