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PHOTOPROTECTION REVISITED: Genetic and Molecular Approaches.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3102; e-mail:


The involvement of excited and highly reactive intermediates in oxygenic photosynthesis poses unique problems for algae and plants in terms of potential oxidative damage to the photosynthetic apparatus. Photoprotective processes prevent or minimize generation of oxidizing molecules, scavenge reactive oxygen species efficiently, and repair damage that inevitably occurs. This review summarizes several photoprotective mechanisms operating within chloroplasts of plants and green algae. The recent use of genetic and molecular biological approaches is providing new insights into photoprotection, especially with respect to thermal dissipation of excess absorbed light energy, alternative electron transport pathways, chloroplast antioxidant systems, and repair of photosystem II.

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