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Plant Cell. Jul 1998; 10(7): 1121–1134.
PMCID: PMC144052

Arabidopsis mutants define a central role for the xanthophyll cycle in the regulation of photosynthetic energy conversion.


A conserved regulatory mechanism protects plants against the potentially damaging effects of excessive light. Nearly all photosynthetic eukaryotes are able to dissipate excess absorbed light energy in a process that involves xanthophyll pigments. To dissect the role of xanthophylls in photoprotective energy dissipation in vivo, we isolated Arabidopsis xanthophyll cycle mutants by screening for altered nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence. The npq1 mutants are unable to convert violaxanthin to zeaxanthin in excessive light, whereas the npq2 mutants accumulate zeaxanthin constitutively. The npq2 mutants are new alleles of aba1, the zeaxanthin epoxidase gene. The high levels of zeaxanthin in npq2 affected the kinetics of induction and relaxation but not the extent of nonphotochemical quenching. Genetic mapping, DNA sequencing, and complementation of npq1 demonstrated that this mutation affects the structural gene encoding violaxanthin deepoxidase. The npq1 mutant exhibited greatly reduced nonphotochemical quenching, demonstrating that violaxanthin deepoxidation is required for the bulk of rapidly reversible nonphotochemical quenching in Arabidopsis. Altered regulation of photosynthetic energy conversion in npq1 was associated with increased sensitivity to photoinhibition. These results, in conjunction with the analysis of npq mutants of Chlamydomonas, suggest that the role of the xanthophyll cycle in nonphotochemical quenching has been conserved, although different photosynthetic eukaryotes rely on the xanthophyll cycle to different extents for the dissipation of excess absorbed light energy.

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Selected References

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