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Biochemistry. 1998 Dec 15;37(50):17339-44.

Influence of herbicide binding on the redox potential of the quinone acceptor in photosystem II: relevance to photodamage and phytotoxicity.

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  • 1D├ępartement de Biologie Cellulaire et Mol├ęculaire, CNRS URA 2096, CEA Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France, ak@bop1.biologie.uni-frei


Here we show that herbicide binding influences the redox potential (Em) of the plastoquinone QA/QA- redox couple in Photosystem II (PSII). Phenolic herbicides lower the Em by approximately 45 mV, while DCMU raises the Em by 50 mV. These shifts are reflected in changes in the peak temperature of thermoluminescence bands arising from the recombination of charge pairs involving QA-. The herbicide-induced changes in the Em of QA/QA- correlate with earlier work showing that phenolic herbicides increase the sensitivity of PSII to light, while DCMU protects against photodamage. This correlation is explained in terms of the following hypothesis which is based on reactions occurring in the bacterial reaction center. The back-reaction pathway for P680+QA- is assumed to be modulated by the free-energy gap between the P680+QA- and the P680+Ph- radical pairs. When this gap is small (i.e., when the Em of QA/QA- is lowered), a true back-reaction is favored in which P680+Ph- is formed, a state which decays forming a significant yield of P680 triplet. This triplet state of chlorophyll reacts with oxygen, forming singlet oxygen, a species likely to be responsible for photodamage. When the free-energy gap is increased (i.e., when the Em of QA/QA- is raised), the yield of the P680+Ph- is diminished and a greater proportion of the P680+QA- radical pair decays by an alternative, less damaging, route. We propose that at least some of the phytotoxic properties of phenolic herbicides may be explained by the fact that they render PSII ultrasensitive to light due to this mechanism.

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