Chlorophylls (Chls) are the most abundant plant pigments on Earth. Chls are located in the membrane of thylakoids where they constitute the two photosystems (PSII and PSI) of terrestrial plants, responsible for both light absorption and transduction of chemical energy via photosynthesis. The high efficiency of photosystems in terms of light absorption correlates with the need to protect themselves against absorption of excess light, a process that leads to the so-called photoinhibition. Dynamic photoinhibition consists of the downregulation of photosynthesis quantum yield and a series of photo-protective mechanisms aimed to reduce the amount of light reaching the chloroplast and/or to counteract the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can be grouped in: (i) the first line of chloroplast defence: non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), that is, the dissipation of excess excitation light as heat, a process that takes place in the external antennae of PSII and in which other pigments, that is carotenoids, are directly involved; (ii) the second line of defence: enzymatic antioxidant and antioxidant molecules that scavenge the generated ROS; alternative electron transport (cyclic electron transport, pseudo-cyclic electron flow, chlororespiration and water-water cycle) can efficiently prevent the over-reduction of electron flow, and reduced ferredoxin (Fd) plays a key role in this context.
Part of the book: Chlorophyll