Under CO2-limited conditions such as during stomatal closure, photorespiration is suggested to act as a sink for excess light energy and protect photosystem I (PSI) by oxidizing its reaction center chlorophyll P700. In this study, this issue was directly examined with rice (Oryza sativa L.) plants via genetic manipulation of the amount of Rubisco, which can be a limiting factor for photorespiration. At low [CO2] of 5 Pa that mimicked stomatal closure condition, the activity of photorespiration in transgenic plants with decreased Rubisco content (RBCS-antisense plants) markedly decreased, whereas the activity in transgenic plants with overproduction of Rubisco (RBCS-sense plants) was similar to that in wild-type plants. Oxidation of P700 was enhanced at [CO2] of 5 Pa in wild-type and RBCS-sense plants. PSI was not damaged by excess light stress induced by repetitive saturated pulse-light (rSP) in the presence of strong steady-state light. On the other hand, P700 was strongly reduced in RBCS-antisense plants at [CO2] of 5 Pa. PSI was also damaged by rSP illumination. These results indicate that oxidation of P700 and the robustness of PSI against excess light stress are hampered by the decreased activity of photorespiration as a result of genetic manipulation of Rubisco content. It is also suggested that overproduction of Rubisco does not enhance photorespiration as well as CO2 assimilation probably due to partial deactivation of Rubisco.
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