State transitions and photosystems spatially resolved in individual cells of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus

Bhatti, Ahmad Farhan; Kirilovsky, Diana; Amerongen, Herbert van; Wientjes, Emilie


State transitions are a low-light acclimation response through which the excitation of Photosystem I (PSI) and Photosystem II (PSII) is balanced; however, our understanding of this process in cyanobacteria remains poor. Here, picosecond fluorescence kinetics was recorded for the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), both upon chlorophyll a and phycobilisome (PBS) excitation. Fluorescence kinetics of single cells obtained using FLIM were compared with those of ensembles of cells obtained with time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The global distribution of PSI and PSII and PBSs was mapped making use of their fluorescence kinetics. Both radial and lateral heterogeneity were found in the distribution of the photosystems. State transitions were studied at the level of single cells. FLIM results show that PSII quenching occurs in all cells, irrespective of their state (I or II). In S. elongatus cells, this quenching is enhanced in State II. Furthermore, the decrease of PSII fluorescence in State II was homogeneous throughout the cells, despite the inhomogeneous PSI/PSII ratio. Finally, some disconnected PBSs were resolved in most State II cells. Taken together our data show that PSI is enriched in the inner thylakoid, while state transitions occur homogeneously throughout the cell.