Linear and cyclic electron fluxes through Photosystem I in 1% CO 2 were quantified in spinach leaf tissue under severe water stress. Using actinic light with a peak at 697 nm for preferential light absorption by Photosystem I while also stimulating Photosystem II to improve redox poising, the cyclic electron flux after 60 s of illumination was a substantial proportion (33-44%) of the total electron flux through PSI at irradiances up to ~1,070 μmol photons m-2 s-1. At the maximum irradiance, the cyclic electron flux changed little with the progressive water loss from leaf tissue up to ∼60%; by contrast, the linear electron flux was approximately halved. A reason for this differential effect of water stress on the capacity for cyclic and linear electron flow could be the increased crowding of soluble proteins in the stroma due to chloroplast shrinkage. Indeed the confinement of soluble proteins to a smaller chloroplast volume was indicated by cryo-scanning electron microscopy. It is known that the diffusion coefficient of large proteins is decreased when the background concentration of small proteins is raised; by contrast, the diffusion coefficient of small proteins is not affected by increasing the concentration of a large protein (Muramatsu and Minton in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85:2984-2988, 1988). Therefore, we suggest that linear electron flow, being coupled to the Calvin-Benson cycle, is limited by the diffusion of large macromolecules, especially the ribulose 1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase complex. By contrast, cyclic electron flow, involving relatively small macromolecules such as ferredoxin, is less susceptible to inhibition by crowding in the stroma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas