Single chloroplast in folio imaging sheds light on photosystem energy redistribution during state transitions

Verhoeven, Dana; van Amerongen, Herbert; Wientjes, Emilie


Oxygenic photosynthesis is driven by light absorption in photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII). A balanced excitation pressure between PSI and PSII is required for optimal photosynthetic efficiency. State transitions serve to keep this balance. If PSII is overexcited in plants and green algae, a mobile pool of light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) associates with PSI, increasing its absorption cross-section and restoring the excitation balance. This is called state 2. Upon PSI overexcitation, this LHCII pool moves to PSII, leading to state 1. Whether the association/dissociation of LHCII with the photosystems occurs between thylakoid grana and thylakoid stroma lamellae during state transitions or within the same thylakoid region remains unclear. Furthermore, although state transitions are thought to be accompanied by changes in thylakoid macro-organisation, this has never been observed directly in functional leaves. In this work, we used confocal fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to quantify state transitions in single Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) chloroplasts in folio with sub-micrometre spatial resolution. The change in excitation-energy distribution between PSI and PSII was investigated at a range of excitation wavelengths between 475 nm and 665 nm. For all excitation wavelengths, the PSI/(PSI + PSII) excitation ratio was higher in state 2 than in state 1. We next imaged the local PSI/(PSI + PSII) excitation ratio for single chloroplasts in both states. The data indicated that LHCII indeed migrates between the grana and stroma lamellae during state transitions. Finally, fluorescence intensity images revealed that thylakoid macro-organisation is largely unaffected by state transitions. This single chloroplast in folio imaging method will help in understanding how plants adjust their photosynthetic machinery to ever-changing light conditions.