Significance: Photosynthetic organisms are subjected to frequent changes in their environment that include fluctuations in light quality and quantity, temperature, CO(2) concentration, and nutrient availability. They have evolved complex responses to these changes that allow them to protect themselves against photo-oxidative damage and to optimize their growth under these adverse conditions. In the case of light changes, these acclimatory processes can occur in either the short or the long term and are mainly mediated through the redox state of the plastoquinone pool and the ferredoxin/thioredoxin system.
Recent advances: Short-term responses involve a dynamic reorganization of photosynthetic complexes, and long-term responses (LTRs) modulate the chloroplast and nuclear gene expression in such a way that the levels of the photosystems and their antennae are rebalanced for an optimal photosynthetic performance. These changes are mediated through a complex signaling network with several protein kinases and phosphatases that are conserved in land plants and algae. The phosphorylation status of the light-harvesting proteins of photosystem II and its core proteins is mainly determined by two complementary kinase-phosphatase pairs corresponding to STN7/PPH1 and STN8/PBCP, respectively.
Critical issues: The activity of the Stt7 kinase is principally regulated by the redox state of the plastoquinone pool, which in turn depends on the light irradiance, ambient CO(2) concentration, and cellular energy status. In addition, this kinase is also involved in the LTR.
Future directions: Other chloroplast kinases modulate the activity of the plastid transcriptional machinery, but the global signaling network that connects all of the identified kinases and phosphatases is still largely unknown.