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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2005 Mar 1;78(3):195-201.

Functional in situ evaluation of photosynthesis-protecting carotenoids in mutants of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC6803.

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Biosynthese Gruppe, Botanisches Institut, J.W. Goethe Universität, Postfach, Siesmayerstrasse 70, PO Box 111932, D-60054 Frankfurt, Germany.


Cyanobacteria possess different carotenoids as scavengers of reactive oxygen species. In Synechocystis PCC6803, zeaxanthin, echinenone, beta-carotene and myxoxanthophyll are synthesized. By disruption of the ketolase and hydroxylase genes, it was possible to obtain mutants devoid of either zeaxanthin, echinenone, or a combination of both carotenoids. With these mutants, their function in protecting photosynthetic electron transport under high light stress as well as chlorophyll and carotenoid degradation after initiation of singlet oxygen or radical formation was analyzed. Wild type Synechocystis is very well protected against high light-mediated photooxidation. Absence of echinenone affects photosynthetic electron transport to only a small extent. However, complete depletion of zeaxanthin together with a modification of myxoxanthophyll resulted in strong photoinhibition of overall photosynthetic electron transport as well as the photosystem II reaction. In the double mutant lacking both carotenoids the effects were additive. The light saturation curves of photosynthetic electron transport of the high light-treated mutants exhibited not only a lower saturation value but also smaller slopes. Using methylviologen or methylene blue as a radical or singlet oxygen generators, respectively, massive degradation of chlorophyll and carotenoids, indicative of photooxidative destruction of the photosynthetic apparatus, was observed, especially in the mutants devoid of zeaxanthin.

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