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  1. null (Ed.)
    The responses of plant photosynthesis to rapid fluctuations in environmental conditions are thought to be critical for efficient conversion of light energy. Such responses are not well represented under laboratory conditions, but have also been difficult to probe in complex field environments. We demonstrate an open science approach to this problem that combines multifaceted measurements of photosynthesis and environmental conditions, and an unsupervised statistical clustering approach. In a selected set of data on mint (Mentha sp.), we show that the “light potential” for increasing linear electron flow (LEF) and nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) upon rapid light increases are strongly suppressed in leaves previously exposed to low ambient PAR or low leaf temperatures, factors that can act both independently and cooperatively. Further analyses allowed us to test specific mechanisms. With decreasing leaf temperature or PAR, limitations to photosynthesis during high light fluctuations shifted from rapidly-induced NPQ to photosynthetic control (PCON) of electron flow at the cytochrome b6f complex. At low temperatures, high light induced lumen acidification, but did not induce NPQ, leading to accumulation of reduced electron transfer intermediates, a situation likely to induce photodamage, and represents a potential target for improving the efficiency and robustness of photosynthesis. Finally, we discuss the implications of the approach for open science efforts to understand and improve crop productivity. 
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  2. Abstract

    The ability to redirect electron transport to new reactions in living systems opens possibilities to store energy, generate new products, or probe physiological processes. Recent work by Huang et al. showed that 3D crystals of small tetraheme cytochromes (STC) can transport electrons over nanoscopic to mesoscopic distances by an electron hopping mechanism, making them promising materials for nanowires. However, fluctuations at room temperature may distort the nanostructure, hindering efficient electron transport. Classical molecular dynamics simulations of these fluctuations at the nano‐ and mesoscopic scales allowed us to develop a graph network representation to estimate maximum electron flow that can be driven through STC wires. In longer nanowires, transient structural fluctuations at protein‐protein interfaces tended to obstruct efficient electron transfer, but these blockages are ameliorated in thicker crystals where alternative electron transfer pathways become more efficient. The model implies that more flexible proteinprotein interfaces limit the required minimum diameter to carry currents commensurate with conventional electronics.

     
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  3. Abstract

    In nature, plants experience rapid changes in light intensity and quality throughout the day. To maximize growth, they have established molecular mechanisms to optimize photosynthetic output while protecting components of the light‐dependent reaction and CO2fixation pathways. Plant phenotyping of mutant collections has become a powerful tool to unveil the genetic loci involved in environmental acclimation. Here, we describe the phenotyping of the transfer‐DNA (T‐DNA) insertion mutant line SALK_008491, previously known asnhd1‐1. Growth in a fluctuating light regime caused a loss in growth rate accompanied by a spike in photosystem (PS) II damage and increased non‐photochemical quenching (NPQ). Interestingly, an independentnhd1null allele did not recapitulate the NPQ phenotype. Through bulk sequencing of a backcrossed segregating F2pool, we identified an ~14‐kb large deletion on chromosome 3 (Chr3) in SALK_008491 affecting five genes upstream ofNHD1. BesidesNHD1, which encodes for a putative plastid Na+/H+antiporter, the stromal NAD‐dependent D‐3‐phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase 3 (PGDH3) locus was eradicated. Although some changes in the SALK_008491 mutant's photosynthesis can be assigned to the loss of PGDH3, our follow‐up studies employing respective single mutants and complementation with overlapping transformation‐competent artificial chromosome (TAC) vectors reveal that the exacerbated fluctuating light sensitivity in SALK_008491 mutants result from the simultaneous loss of PGDH3 and NHD1. Altogether, the data obtained from this large deletion‐carrying mutant provide new and unintuitive insights into the molecular mechanisms that function to protect the photosynthetic machinery. Moreover, our study renews calls for caution when setting up reverse genetic studies using T‐DNA lines. Although second‐site insertions, indels, and SNPs have been reported before, large deletion surrounding the insertion site causes yet another problem. Nevertheless, as shown through this research, such unpredictable genetic events following T‐DNA mutagenesis can provide unintuitive insights that allow for understanding complex phenomena such as the plant acclimation to dynamic high light stress.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Sigma factor (SIG) proteins contribute to promoter specificity of the plastid‐encodedRNApolymerase during chloroplast genome transcription. All six members of theSIGfamily, that is,SIG1–SIG6, are nuclear‐encoded proteins targeted to chloroplasts. Sigma factor 2 (SIG2) is a phytochrome‐regulated protein important for stoichiometric control of the expression of plastid‐ and nuclear‐encoded genes that impact plastid development and plant growth and development. AmongSIGfactors,SIG2 is required not only for transcription of chloroplast genes (i.e., anterograde signaling), but also impacts nuclear‐encoded, photosynthesis‐related, and light signaling‐related genes (i.e., retrograde signaling) in response to plastid functional status. AlthoughSIG2 is involved in photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis, the molecular bases for its role in light signaling that impacts photomorphogenesis and aspects of photosynthesis have only recently begun to be investigated. Previously, we reported thatSIG2 is necessary for phytochrome‐mediated photomorphogenesis specifically under red (R) and far‐red light, thereby suggesting a link between phytochromes and nuclear‐encodedSIG2 in light signaling. To explore transcriptional roles ofSIG2 in R‐dependent growth and development, we performedRNAsequencing analysis to compare gene expression insig2‐2mutant and Col‐0 wild‐type seedlings at two developmental stages (1‐ and 7‐day). We identified a subset of misregulated genes involved in growth, hormonal cross talk, stress responses, and photosynthesis. To investigate the functional relevance of these gene expression analyses, we performed several comparative phenotyping tests. In these analyses, strongsig2mutants showed insensitivity to bioactiveGA3, high intracellular levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) indicative of a stress response, and specific defects in photosynthesis, including elevated levels of cyclic electron flow (CEF) and nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). We demonstrated thatSIG2 regulates a broader range of physiological responses at the molecular level than previously reported, with specific roles in red‐light‐mediated photomorphogenesis.

     
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  5. Summary

    Photosynthetic organisms rapidly adjust the capture, transfer and utilization of light energy to optimize the efficiency of photosynthesis and avoid photodamage. These adjustments involve fine‐tuning of expression levels and mutual interactions among electron/proton transfer components and their associated light‐harvesting antenna. Detailed studies of these interactions and their dynamics have been hindered by the low throughput and resolution of currently available research tools, which involve laborious isolation, separation and characterization steps. To address these issues, we developed an approach that measured multiple spectroscopic properties of thylakoid preparations directly in native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels, enabling unprecedented resolution of photosynthetic complexes, both in terms of the spectroscopic and functional details, as well as the ability to distinguish separate complexes and thus test their functional connections. As a demonstration, we explore the thylakoid membrane components ofChlamydomonas reinhardtiiacclimated to high and low light, using a combination of room temperature absorption and 77K fluorescence emission to generate a multi‐dimensional molecular and spectroscopic map of the photosynthetic apparatus. We show that low‐light‐acclimated cells accumulate a photosystem I‐containing megacomplex that is absent in high‐light‐acclimated cells and contains distinct LhcIIproteins that can be distinguished based on their spectral signatures.

     
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