High-light modification of excitation-energy-relaxation processes in the green flagellate Euglena gracilis

Photosynth Res. 2021 Sep;149(3):303-311. doi: 10.1007/s11120-021-00849-9. Epub 2021 May 26.


Photosynthetic organisms finely tune their photosynthetic machinery including pigment compositions and antenna systems to adapt to various light environments. However, it is poorly understood how the photosynthetic machinery in the green flagellate Euglena gracilis is modified under high-light conditions. In this study, we examined high-light modification of excitation-energy-relaxation processes in Euglena cells. Oxygen-evolving activity in the cells incubated at 300 µmol photons m-2 s-1 (HL cells) cannot be detected, reflecting severe photodamage to photosystem II (PSII) in vivo. Pigment compositions in the HL cells showed relative increases in 9'-cis-neoxanthin, diadinoxanthin, and chlorophyll b compared with the cells incubated at 30 µmol photons m-2 s-1 (LL cells). Absolute fluorescence spectra at 77 K exhibit smaller intensities of the PSII and photosystem I (PSI) fluorescence in the HL cells than in the LL cells. Absolute fluorescence decay-associated spectra at 77 K of the HL cells indicate suppression of excitation-energy transfer from light-harvesting complexes (LHCs) to both PSI and PSII with the time constant of 40 ps. Rapid energy quenching in LHCs and PSII in the HL cells is distinctly observed by averaged Chl-fluorescence lifetimes. These findings suggest that Euglena modifies excitation-energy-relaxation processes in addition to pigment compositions to deal with excess energy. These results provide insights into the photoprotection strategies of this alga under high-light conditions.

Keywords: Euglena gracilis; Photoprotection; Photosynthesis; Time-resolved fluorescence.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism*
  • Energy Transfer / physiology*
  • Euglena gracilis / metabolism*
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*


  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Chlorophyll
  • chlorophyll b