Dynamic regulation of photosynthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Plant J. 2015 May;82(3):413-428. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12805. Epub 2015 Mar 17.


Plants and algae have acquired the ability to acclimatize to ever-changing environments to survive. During photosynthesis, light energy is converted by several membrane protein supercomplexes into electrochemical energy, which is eventually used to assimilate CO2 . The efficiency of photosynthesis is modulated by many environmental factors, including temperature, drought, CO2 concentration, and the quality and quantity of light. Recently, our understanding of such regulators of photosynthesis and the underlying molecular mechanisms has increased considerably. The photosynthetic supercomplexes undergo supramolecular reorganizations within a short time after receiving environmental cues. These reorganizations include state transitions that balance the excitation of the two photosystems: qE quenching, which thermally dissipates excess energy at the level of the light-harvesting antenna, and cyclic electron flow, which supplies the increased ATP demanded by CO2 assimilation and the pH gradient to activate qE quenching. This review focuses on the recent findings regarding the environmental regulation of photosynthesis in model organisms, paying particular attention to the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which offer a glimpse into the dynamic behavior of photosynthetic machinery in nature.

Keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; acclimation; cyclic electron flow; electron transfer; green algae; light-harvesting complex; non-photochemical quenching; state transitions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / physiology*
  • Electrons
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Xanthophylls / metabolism


  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Xanthophylls