Short-term acclimation of the photosynthetic electron transfer chain to changing light: a mathematical model

Oliver Ebenhoeh, Geoffrey Fucile, Giovanni Finazzi, Jean-David Rochaix, Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic eukaryotes house two photosystems with distinct light absorption spectra. Natural fluctuations in light quality and quantity can lead to unbalanced or excess excitation, compromising photosynthetic efficiency and causing photodamage. Consequently, these organisms have acquired several distinct adaptive mechanisms, collectively referred to as non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll fluorescence, which modulates the organization and function of the photosynthetic apparatus. The ability to monitor NPQ processes fluorometrically has led to substantial progress in elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms. However, the relative contribution of distinct NPQ mechanisms to variable light conditions in different photosynthetic eukaryotes remains unclear. Here, we present a mathematical model of the dynamic regulation of eukaryotic photosynthesis using ordinary differential equations. We demonstrate that, for Chlamydomonas, our model recapitulates the basic fluorescence features of short-term light acclimation known as state transitions and discuss how the model can be iteratively refined by comparison with physiological experiments to further our understanding of light acclimation in different species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130223
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1640
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

M.G.-C. was supported by the RTD
‘Plant Growth in a Changing Environment’ and by the Swiss
National Foundation (31003A_146300). O.E., G.F. and M.G.-C. benefited
from the Marie Curie ITN ‘AccliPhot’ (GA 316 427). J.-D.R.
acknowledges a grant from the Swiss National Foundation
(3100A0_117712). G.F. was supported by an EMBO Post-Doctoral Fellowship.
Mutual visits between Geneva and Aberdeen were funded
by the Royal Society through the International Exchanges Grant
(ref. IE110263). G.F. acknowledges funding by the French National
Foundation Agency (ANR grant phytadapt ANR-NT09_567009)
and the Labex GRAL (Grenoble Alliance for Integrated Structural
Cell Biology) grants.


  • photosynthesis
  • light acclimation
  • state transitions
  • non-photochemical quenching
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • mathematical modelling
  • harvesting complex-II
  • diatom phaeodactylum-tricornutum
  • cytochrome BF complex
  • chlamydomonas-Reinhardtii
  • in-vivo
  • protein-phosphorylation
  • excitation-energy
  • photosystem-I
  • green plants


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