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.