Regulation of photosynthetic electron transport and photoinhibition

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2014;15(4):351-62. doi: 10.2174/1389203715666140327105143.


Photosynthetic organisms and isolated photosystems are of interest for technical applications. In nature, photosynthetic electron transport has to work efficiently in contrasting environments such as shade and full sunlight at noon. Photosynthetic electron transport is regulated on many levels, starting with the energy transfer processes in antenna and ending with how reducing power is ultimately partitioned. This review starts by explaining how light energy can be dissipated or distributed by the various mechanisms of non-photochemical quenching, including thermal dissipation and state transitions, and how these processes influence photoinhibition of photosystem II (PSII). Furthermore, we will highlight the importance of the various alternative electron transport pathways, including the use of oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor and cyclic flow around photosystem I (PSI), the latter which seem particularly relevant to preventing photoinhibition of photosystem I. The control of excitation pressure in combination with the partitioning of reducing power influences the light-dependent formation of reactive oxygen species in PSII and in PSI, which may be a very important consideration to any artificial photosynthetic system or technical device using photosynthetic organisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electron Transport / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Photosynthesis / radiation effects*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / radiation effects*
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / radiation effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Reactive Oxygen Species