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Higher plant photosynthesis: Identification of the chlorophyll fluorescence quencher (HIGH-IQ)
Start date: Sep 27, 2008, End date: Sep 26, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Photosynthesis is the process that converts energy from sun light into utilizable high-energy metabolites such as ATP and NADPH which can be used by biological organisms to fulfil their physiological functions. The process is very important, because it directly or indirectly provides energy, organic matter and molecular oxygen to sustain nearly all life on Earth. Without photosynthesis the world would not be green, our atmosphere would not contain oxygen, respiration would not be possible, so life would not be present. When plants are exposed to light intensities in excess of those that can be utilized in photosynthetic electron transport, the efficient light-harvesting antenna found in the chloroplast membranes of plants is rapidly and reversibly switched into a photoprotected quenched state in which potentially harmful absorbed energy is dissipated as heat, a process measured as the non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence or qE. Although the biological significance of qE is established, the molecular mechanisms involved have not. LHCII, the main light-harvesting complex, has an inbuilt capability to undergo transformation into a dissipative state by conformational change and it was suggested that this provides a molecular basis for qE, but it is not known if such events occur in vivo or how energy is dissipated in this state. This project will develop this study of the origins of these molecular mechanisms using a wide range of state-of- the-art spectroscopic techniques including femstosecond spectroscopy, single molecule spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. A series of proteins with different pigment composition will be isolated and purified based on well developed biochemical protocols. In order to relate this to the physiological environment a parallel series of studies will be developed on intact chloroplasts and whole leaves"
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