NDH-1 and NDH-2 Plastoquinone Reductases in Oxygenic Photosynthesis

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2016 Apr 29;67:55-80. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-043014-114752. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Oxygenic photosynthesis converts solar energy into chemical energy in the chloroplasts of plants and microalgae as well as in prokaryotic cyanobacteria using a complex machinery composed of two photosystems and both membrane-bound and soluble electron carriers. In addition to the major photosynthetic complexes photosystem II (PSII), cytochrome b6f, and photosystem I (PSI), chloroplasts also contain minor components, including a well-conserved type I NADH dehydrogenase (NDH-1) complex that functions in close relationship with photosynthesis and likewise originated from the endosymbiotic cyanobacterial ancestor. Some plants and many microalgal species have lost plastidial ndh genes and a functional NDH-1 complex during evolution, and studies have suggested that a plastidial type II NADH dehydrogenase (NDH-2) complex substitutes for the electron transport activity of NDH-1. However, although NDH-1 was initially thought to use NAD(P)H as an electron donor, recent research has demonstrated that both chloroplast and cyanobacterial NDH-1s oxidize reduced ferredoxin. We discuss more recent findings related to the biochemical composition and activity of NDH-1 and NDH-2 in relation to the physiology and regulation of photosynthesis, particularly focusing on their roles in cyclic electron flow around PSI, chlororespiration, and acclimation to changing environments.

Keywords: NDH; chloroplast; chlororespiration; cyanobacteria; cyclic electron flow; photosynthesis; respiration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cell Respiration
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Electron Transport
  • Ferredoxins / metabolism
  • NADH Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism*
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Quinone Reductases / metabolism*


  • Ferredoxins
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • NADH dehydrogenase II
  • Quinone Reductases
  • NADH Dehydrogenase
  • Oxygen