Heat stress: an overview of molecular responses in photosynthesis

Photosynth Res. 2008 Oct-Dec;98(1-3):541-50. doi: 10.1007/s11120-008-9331-0. Epub 2008 Jul 22.


The primary targets of thermal damage in plants are the oxygen evolving complex along with the associated cofactors in photosystem II (PSII), carbon fixation by Rubisco and the ATP generating system. Recent investigations on the combined action of moderate light intensity and heat stress suggest that moderately high temperatures do not cause serious PSII damage but inhibit the repair of PSII. The latter largely involves de novo synthesis of proteins, particularly the D1 protein of the photosynthetic machinery that is damaged due to generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in the reduction of carbon fixation and oxygen evolution, as well as disruption of the linear electron flow. The attack of ROS during moderate heat stress principally affects the repair system of PSII, but not directly the PSII reaction center (RC). Heat stress additionally induces cleavage and aggregation of RC proteins; the mechanisms of such processes are as yet unclear. On the other hand, membrane linked sensors seem to trigger the accumulation of compatible solutes like glycinebetaine in the neighborhood of PSII membranes. They also induce the expression of stress proteins that alleviate the ROS-mediated inhibition of repair of the stress damaged photosynthetic machinery and are required for the acclimation process. In this review we summarize the recent progress in the studies of molecular mechanisms involved during moderate heat stress on the photosynthetic machinery, especially in PSII.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betaine / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Light
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Photosynthesis*
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Betaine