In oxygenic photosynthesis, light harvesting is regulated to safely dissipate excess energy and prevent the formation of harmful photoproducts. Regulation is known to be necessary for fitness, but the molecular mechanisms are not understood. One challenge has been that ensemble experiments average over active and dissipative behaviours, preventing identification of distinct states. Here, we use single-molecule spectroscopy to uncover the photoprotective states and dynamics of the light-harvesting complex stress-related 1 (LHCSR1) protein, which is responsible for dissipation in green algae and moss. We discover the existence of two dissipative states. We find that one of these states is activated by pH and the other by carotenoid composition, and that distinct protein dynamics regulate these states. Together, these two states enable the organism to respond to two types of intermittency in solar intensity - step changes (clouds and shadows) and ramp changes (sunrise), respectively. Our findings reveal key control mechanisms underlying photoprotective dissipation, with implications for increasing biomass yields and developing robust solar energy devices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)