Photosynthetic PSI-LHCI complexes from an extremophilic red alga C. merolae grown under varying light regimes are characterized by decreasing size of LHCI antenna with increasing illumination intensity . In this study we applied time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to characterize the kinetics of energy transfer processes in three types of PSI-LHCI supercomplexes isolated from the low (LL), medium (ML) and extreme high light (EHL) conditions. We show that the average rate of fluorescence decay is not correlated with the size of LHCI antenna and is twice faster in complexes isolated from ML-grown cells (~25-30 ps) than from both LL- and EHL-exposed cells (~50-55 ps). The difference is mainly due to a contribution of a long ~100-ps decay component detected only for the latter two PSI samples. We propose that the lack of this phase in ML complexes is caused by perfect coupling of this antenna to PSI core and lack of low-energy chlorophylls in LHCI. On the other hand, the presence of the slow, ~100-ps, fluorescence decay component in LL and EHL complexes may be due to the weak coupling between PSI core and LHCI antenna complex, and due to the presence of particularly low-energy or red chlorophylls in LHCI. Our study has revealed the remarkable functional flexibility of light harvesting strategies that have evolved in the extremophilic red algae in response to harsh or limiting light conditions involving accumulation of low energy chlorophylls that exert two distinct functions: as energy traps or as far-red absorbing light harvesting antenna, respectively.
Keywords: Extremophilic red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae; Light adaptation; Light harvesting complex I; Photosystem I; Red chlorophylls; Time-resolved fluorescence.
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