The Essence of non-photochemical quenching in higher plant photosynthesis
Plants are constantly exposed to changing environments, which, due to the fact that they are sessile organisms, they need to adapt to. A plant that is able to adapt to these changes rapidly, is a plant that will perform better than its neighbors.
Photosynthesis is the process through which light energy from the sun is fixed into chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. This occurs in two steps: a light reaction and subsequently a dark reaction. Without photosynthesis there would be considerably less life on earth than there is right now.
In the light reaction of photosynthesis, adaptability is (partly) regulated in the chloroplast through a mechanism called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). NPQ protects a plant against photodamage caused by changes in light intensity. Research has shown that there are many different ways NPQ can be induced and inhibited. These different mechanisms can be measured using chlorophyll fluorescence measurements and through changes in absorption spectra of photosynthetic proteins. On a genetic level we find that there is quite some natural variation present for NPQ. By using and identifying this natural variation in plants I believe we can produce bigger, more robust crops.