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Plant Physiol. 2003 Oct;133(2):748-60. Epub 2003 Aug 28.

Zeaxanthin deficiency enhances the high light sensitivity of an ascorbate-deficient mutant of Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3102, USA.


The ascorbate content of plants is usually increased in high light (HL), implying a function for ascorbate in the acclimation of plants to HL. Nevertheless, the importance of ascorbate in HL acclimation has not yet been tested directly. Here, we report on the acclimation process of an ascorbate-deficient Arabidopsis mutant to HL. The mutant vtc2 has only 10% to 30% of wild-type levels of ascorbate, and it is also slightly deficient in feedback de-excitation (qE), a photoprotective mechanism that causes the dissipation of excess light as heat. The vtc2 mutant was unable to acclimate to HL, when transferred from low light to HL. Its mature leaves bleached, and it showed an increased degree of lipid peroxidation and photoinhibition. In parallel, we tested the photosensitivity of an ascorbate-deficient xanthophyll cycle mutant, vtc2npq1, which also lacks zeaxanthin and nearly all qE. The double mutant bleached sooner and had higher degrees of lipid peroxidation and photoinhibition than the vtc2 mutant. This was in contrast to the npq1 single mutant that showed only slight deviations from the wild-type phenotype under the conditions used. These results demonstrate the antioxidant role of ascorbate in the acclimation process to HL and point to the relative importance of ascorbate in comparison with other photoprotective processes, such as specific xanthophylls or feedback de-excitation. The results also provide further support for the proposed role of zeaxanthin as an antioxidant and lipid stabilizer.

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